Fresno County Nurses to Strike 3 Days Starting Monday 01-23-12

Join 4,000 County Workers to Protest Cuts Affecting Most Vulnerable

Public Employment Relations Board finds County has not acted in good faith; cites numerous “unfair practices” in nurse negotiations

FRESNO–(ENEWSPF)–January 23, 2012. The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United announced today its submission of a three-day strike notice to the county.   The notice allows for a strike to commence on Monday, January 23, starting at 7 a.m.  

The strike notice comes after the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) reported numerous “unfair practices” on the part of the county in its negotiations with nurses.  In the Jan. 18th findings, the PERB concluded that the county had not acted in “good faith” by unilaterally injecting new terms into contract talks, illegally ignoring RN requests for information and explanation, for barring a lawful assembly and as a result of other acts that “interfered with rights of bargaining unit employees.”  

“The PERB findings give critical insight into how the county does business—without real negotiations, refusing to provide information and data, on a ‘take-it-or-leave-it basis,’” said Mary Morrission, a public health nurse who works with high risk infants and a CNA/NNU member. “The county leaves us no alternative but to strike.”

The nurses will join 4,000 other county workers who issued a three-day strike notice of their own on January 18.  Picket lines will be throughout the county, including the jails, juvenile hall, the Brix Building, 1221 Fulton Mall, and the West Fresno Regional Office

There will be an all-county worker protest at the County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday morning.

What:      All-county worker strike against cuts, fiscal policy and practices
When:     Tuesday, January 24, 9 a.m.
Where:    Fresno County Hall of Records  
                  2281 Tulare Street, Fresno, CA 93721

Fresno County RNs voluntarily agreed to go without raises for the past five years. In that same time, nursing services were slashed by 60 percent—more than in any other county department, dramatically increasing the already heavy caseloads.  Under the imposed contract, more reductions are being mandated, including a 10-25 percent cut in nurses’ wages and substantial monthly increases for healthcare coverage.

Fresno public health nurses provide services for some of the most vulnerable residents in the county — giving vaccinations, providing medical referrals for critically-ill children, instructing in domestic violence prevention, and reducing infant mortality rates. There is a growing population in need of these crucial services, nurses say, including the prevention of infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, which has recently reappeared.

Fresno nursing services are funded almost entirely with state and federal funds, at virtually no cost to the county. Little or no fiscal benefit will be derived from the cuts. Nurses point out that Fresno County is the only county in the state that turned down federal funds — more than $56 million was available to provide health care for Fresno’s neediest residents yet went untapped.   

“These cuts will have a profound impact on the most vulnerable patients who utilize the county for health services,” said DeAnn McEwen, RN and co-president of CNA.  “At the very time patients need help in getting more access due to stress in a very harsh economy, as well as from loss of insurance, Fresno is proposing cutbacks. We won’t stand for that.”

Growing numbers of Fresno’s working families are falling through the cracks. One in six Fresno County residents is unemployed and 202,000 residents report having been either fully or partially uninsured last year.    

“The last thing this county should be doing is sacrificing our children and our most vulnerable neighbors,” said McEwen.


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