Sutter Nurses’ Stance and Strikes for Patient Care Pay off with Tentative Pact

After a series of strikes during the past two years protesting sweeping reductions in patient care, nurses’ standards and workplace conditions that Sutter Health system demanded during contract talks at San Francisco Bay area hospitals, some 3,000 registered nurses have reached a tentative agreement that eliminates more than 200 concession demands.

The agreement, announced Friday, covers RNs and several hundred respiratory, X-ray and other technicians who work at Alta Bates Medical Center facilities in Berkeley and Oakland, Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, Sutter Solano in Vallejo and Sutter Delta in Antioch. The health care professionals are members of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU) or its affiliate Caregivers and Hospital Employees Union.

NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro praised “the amazing spirit, courage, and dedication of the Sutter nurses to their patients, their communities and their colleagues.” The central issue, she said, was defending patient care protections and nursing standards from a wealthy and powerful employer determined to roll them back. 

In an era in which corporate giants in healthcare and many other industries from coast to coast are forcing working people and their families to accept multiple reductions in workplace standards and livelihoods, the Sutter nurses have shown that through unity and a willingness to stand up and say ‘no,’ it is possible to hold the line and win.

Eric Koch, an RN at Alta Bates Summit, Berkeley, said:

We've been galvanized by this fight to always remember that corporate healthcare does not always put the patients, the community, and those on the front lines like nurses and techs first. We must be the watchdog for our collective health in so many ways.

The nurses held nine strikes, and Sutter responded with several lockouts. Details of the agreement, which has been recommended by the nurse bargaining teams, will be presented to the nurses at meetings later this week. The agreement follows the pattern established in earlier agreements at other Sutter Bay Area hospitals that also were premised on the withdrawal of concession demands.

Read more from NNU.