SAN DIEGO – The nurses’ union for Sharp HealthCare voted to authorize a strike Thursday as contract negotiations between the union and the San Diego-based company broke down.
"We've spent months explaining to management why experienced nurses are a necessary part of patient care at Sharp," Sharp Grossmont nurse Christina Magnuson said in a prepared statement released to 10News. "Unfortunately, management refuses to acknowledge how turnover is impacting the working conditions of the nurses who remain. While they claim turnover rates are lower than average, they miss the underlying point that Sharp is bleeding nurses and why it matters."
Ninety-eight percent of the more than 2,200 registered nurses who voted favored authorizing a strike. The union, Sharp Professional Nurses Network, must provide Sharp with a 10-day notice before nurses walk off the job in order to allow the company to train its backup nurses.
Sharp told 10News that it has enough backup nurses from local temporary staffing agencies to fill the void left by striking nurses, should it happen.
"Sharp HeathCare is disappointed that the nurse union (SPNN/UNAC) has voted to authorize a strike at Sharp hospitals, rather than accept the generous economic proposal that was offered," read a statement released by the company. "Sharp is hopeful that both parties will come to a contract agreement before a strike notice is given or a strike commences."
Negotiations over a new contract have been ongoing since July. Sharp operates four hospitals in San Diego County. It employs about 17,000 people.
In late October the union rejected Sharp’s latest offer, which consisted of a pay increase of 16 to 26 percent over the span of three years. At the time, a Sharp spokesperson told 10News it had already instituted a seven percent raise across the board to its nurses, who are currently working without a contract.