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Nurses at 9 Southern California hospitals announce plans to strike

May 28, 2010 |  4:16 pm

A union representing 13,000 nurses at nine Southern California hospitals announced Friday that they intend to strike June 10 if they do not reach agreement with hospital officials on their contracts.

The strike would include nurses from all University of California hospitals, Citrus Valley Medical Center in Covina, San Pedro Peninsula Hospital and Olympia Medical Center in Los Angeles, said Jill Furillo, a nurse and bargaining director for National Nurses United, which includes the California Nurses Assn. union.

Furillo said contract negotiations stalled because of hospital officials' unwillingness to adhere to state-mandated nurse staffing ratios, particularly during nurses' meals and breaks.

"A lot of nurses are having to work a lot of overtime and take more call time, and it's stressing the nurses out," Furillo said. "The hospital is supposed to hire enough nurses to cover and they're not."

Furillo said staffing problems have persisted at the UC hospitals, including UCLA, where about two dozen nurses gathered Friday morning in front of Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

"Other hospitals are meeting the ratios and don't have the same money the UCs do," Furillo said.

UCLA defended its staffing ratios in a statement released Friday.

"The union's allegations are without merit," the statement read. "Patient safety has always been and continues to be a top priority for UCLA and all UC Medical Centers."

If nurses follow through with the strike, they would still maintain a small staff at each hospital in case of emergency, Furillo said.

--Molly Hennessy-Fiske

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