Sharp Readies Plans for Replacement Nurses in Response to Union Strike Notice
Nurse Union Announces Three-day Strike, Nov. 28 to Dec. 1
Sharp HealthCare stands ready to provide the excellent care that our patients and their family members expect in response to the nurse union's announced three-day strike on Nov. 17. Sharp anticipated that the union might take this extreme step and has contracted with an agency that provides specially trained nurses who are committed to providing high-quality patient care during nurse strikes and has filled that role for many hospitals across the country. Sharp is also grateful to the many nurses who have demonstrated their strong professional commitment by communicating they put patients first and will come to work during a strike.
"We are disappointed that the union has chosen to put our patients in the center of our contract disagreement by choosing to walk out of our hospitals," said Dan Gross, DNSc, RN, executive vice president, Sharp HealthCare. "At this time, caring for our patients is our top priority and we have taken the necessary steps to ensure we will have adequate staffing levels with excellent nurses at all times during their walkout."
Gross added that Sharp not only questions the union's choice in taking this radical action, but also their dubious claims about labor practice violations, nurse turnover and patient care issues.
"Throughout the negotiations, the union has pushed for unrealistic wage increases and union security, which means forcing all our nurses to pay union dues, which increase union revenues," Gross said. "We unquestionably believe their labor practice claims are a smokescreen to force Sharp to meet their true demands."
At 8.4 percent, Sharp's 2015 nurse full- and part-time nursing turnover rate was the lowest in San Diego County, according to independent data recorded by the California Hospital Association; Sharp's 2016 turnover is tracking close to last year's rate. Sharp believes SPNN/UNAC nurse turnover numbers are inflated because they include per diem, casual nurses in their calculation. This is not statewide practice and per diem benchmark data does not exist. Per diem nurses have always had higher turnover rates than full- and part-time nurses.
"We carefully put together a generous economic proposal for our nurses that includes a professional advancement model designed to reward, recognize, retain and recruit nurses," said Gross. "The proposal increases nurse base rate of pay by 16 to 26 percent over a three-year period. Further, the year one increase for nurses ranges between 7 and 12 percent. These increases are rarely, if ever, seen not only health care but in any industry."
Sharp's economic package provides wages above the market average when compared to all hospitals in San Diego County, as opposed to comparing them to just one or two hospitals as the union has done in the media. Also, the proposal is an important economic component of Sharp's short- and long-term strategic plan to maintain and increase comprehensive care to the 1 million patients the health system touches each year in dozens of facilities throughout San Diego County. Investment in people, technology, programs and services, and modern facilities requires a great deal of balancing in an era where health care revenues are declining and consumers and employers are demanding a decrease in the cost of care.
Under the union's strike notice, nurses plan to strike against Sharp beginning 7 am on Monday, Nov. 28 to 7 am, Thursday, Dec. 1. Under the terms of Sharp's staffing agreement, the agency requires that their nurses be assigned to Sharp for a minimum five-day period. That means nurses who choose to participate in the strike will be replaced for five days.
Gross added that Sharp remains hopeful that a contract agreement is secured before a strike commences.