Berkeley Declares Support For RNs’ Contract Campaign At Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit

Berkeley city officials voted unanimously in favor of a resolution that calls on Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, in Berkeley and Oakland, to settle the collective bargaining contract with the registered nurses represented by the California Nurses Association. The RNs are struggling to win a contract that calls for greater steps to be taken toward safe patient care.

The City of Berkeley distinguished itself as the first East Bay city to stand in unity with Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit RNs.

Over 160 RNs attended the council meeting, packing the council chambers, with an overflow of nurses standing outside, all of whom came to see this resolution passed.

Sutter RNs throughout Northern California have been on strike three times since October 2007 as a show of their commitment to patient safety standards. Their issues focus on adequate staffing levels and provisions for break relief.

One City Council attendee, Alta Bates campus Labor and Delivery RN, Thorild Urdal, remarked, “Taking a meal break can be a rare occurrence. Just in the past two weeks, I was not able to take a rest break for 5 of 6 shifts worked, and I could not take a meal break for 4 of those 6 shifts.” She states that although “Alta Bates Summit Medical Center claims to provide adequate staff coverage, my recent experience is commonplace, and similar to that of my colleagues.”

Susan Wittstock, RN, who works in the Newborn Intensive Care Nursery, included in her remarks to the City Council, the publication by management of grossly exaggerated salary and pension figures. She states, “While I can never be 100% certain, I can only guess that it is to make the public believe that the issues at stake…are all about salary. They are not the most pressing issues. The nurses’ most pressing issues are about patient and staff safety.”

Both she and Urdal expressed appreciation to the Berkeley legislators for recognizing the nurses in their fight, and for passing the resolution that calls for Alta Bates Summit Medical Center to settle the contract dispute at the earliest date possible on terms that are fair and just for the Registered Nurses.

California Nurses Association

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