Photo by Arielle Canoza

Nurses Unite

University of California registered nurses held informational pickets on Thursday, Jan. 25 at UCSF campuses and at medical centers from Sacramento to San Diego. They gathered to press the case for improving safe staffing and workplace safety measures, and to oppose employer cuts.

The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United represents, which 14,000 RNs at the five major UC medical centers, 10 student health centers, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has been in contract talks with UC for eight months.

“We have been in bargaining with UC for over eight months with dozens of takeaways still on the table that affect our ability to best care for our patients and undermine our quality of life,” stated UC Irvine RN Maureen Berry in a press release. “As a public university, UC must respect and protect the patients and the communities we serve.”

RN proposals include RN staffing based on patient illness, not budgetary goals, protection from unsafe assignment of nurses to clinical areas where the RN does not have specialty expertise, and assurances that allow RNs to take needed meal and rest breaks.

RNs also seek strengthened language to make UC compliant with state laws require workplace violence prevention plans and proper patient handling policies to prevent patient falls and accidents and nurse injuries, as well as improved protection for RNs from exposure to infectious diseases and hazardous substances.

The California Nurses Association states that UC officials are demanding elimination of protections from mandatory overtime, which would force more RNs to work when fatigued at risk to patients and themselves, elimination of the right for nurses to bargain over health benefits and sick leave, reduced retirement benefits, and unwarranted changes in nurses work schedules.