Two-day CNA strike puts Seton Medical Center patient care, hospital financial recovery at risk

CNA wage demands could slow Seton Medical Center recovery

in Community

Seton Medical Center officials warned they will need to transfer patients and postpone elective surgeries on Wednesday after the union representing the hospital’s 300 registered nurses called for a one-day strike.

The California Nurses Association (CNA) leadership say it planned the strike starting at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday in order to demand that the Daly City hospital adhere to “safe staffing laws.”

In a statement Monday, hospital officials say the union is “demanding a 15 percent raise for registered nurses who average $146,000 in wages and benefits.”

The requested pay increase was not mentioned in the CNA’s strike announcement, which alleged that nurses are overworked due to a lack of support staff such as nurse assistants, clerks and secretaries to conduct non-medical hospital duties.

Hospital officials expressed disappointment that the CNA would plan a strike at the same time as the hospital undergoes a significant recovery effort. In August 2020, AHMC Seton Medical Center purchased the safety-net hospital when it was on the brink of bankruptcy and closure. Since then, AHMC Seton Medical Center says it has invested over $100 million in repairs and upgrades, launched a $60 million seismic retrofit and “stabilized its nursing workforce by hiring 189 new staff members, 75 of whom are registered nurses,” among other efforts.

Wednesday’s strike “will disrupt patients and the community and slow the long-term financial recovery of the hospital,” according to AHMC Seton Medical Center.

“We are deeply disappointed that leaders of the California Nurses Association will disrupt our patients and our community with their call for a strike despite receiving fair compensation, staffing stabilization and rejecting a more-than-fair offer,” said Sarkis Vartanian, Seton Medical Center Administrator. “We’re ready and willing to reach a new collective bargaining agreement that’s fair for both sides – but meeting CNA leadership’s current demands is unrealistic and not feasible for the long-term needs of the community.”

In a statement by the CNA, registered nurse Michelle Kubota said her colleagues “have had to fight management for safe staffing” throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We know that increasing patient loads leads to poorer outcomes for our patients and causes morale injury and distress to nurses,” Kubota said, adding, “As union nurses and patient advocates, we will continue to hold AHMC accountable to the needs of our communities and demand they prioritize safe patient care over profits.”

AHMC Seton Medical Center denied prioritizing profits over people and noted it is currently “managing significant monthly operating losses as we work to regain firm financial footing.”

“We have been working diligently to create a stable hospital for our community for years to come,’’ Vartanian said. “It is my job to ensure that Seton Medical Center provide high quality, efficient and accessible care while making sure that we are fiscally responsible. We have a strong plan that we are on our way to achieve, but we simply cannot agree to what CNA leadership is proposing.”

Disclaimer: Adam Alberti, the publisher of Climate Magazine, is Managing Director at Singer Associates, Inc. Seton Medical Center is represented by Singer Associates.