Sharp nurses to begin 3-day strike Monday

Posted at 5:03 PM, Nov 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-28 07:18:00-05
SAN DIEGO -- Sharp HealthCare nurses are preparing to strike on Monday after last-minute negotiations failed on Friday.
Sharp HealthCare announced on Thanksgiving Day that the Sharp Professional Nurses Network and United Nurses Associations of California had proposed  they will not go on strike if Sharp requires all new nurses to pay union dues, and fire all those who do not.
"They want us to agree to a closed shop, but we're not going to," Sharp spokesman John Cihomsky told 10News at the time.
Sharp Healthcare and nursing union representatives met Friday in advance of a planned three-day strike. 
The union sent a news release late Friday stating negotiations had failed.
"Sharp has a serious problem recruiting and retaining its nurses," the statement read. "We have consistently said that a series of core issues need to be addressed to tackle the ongoing recruitment and retention challenge."
The union plans to announce a strike Monday, Nov. 28 at 7 a.m.
"Clearly, the union's desire for a closed shop and the money it would net outweighs their commitment to assuring the nurses they represent do not experience the economic loss that accompanies a strike and the potential impact a strike can have on their patients and the community," Dan Gross, Sharp executive vice president said.
Sharp executives said they have contracted with a firm to provide trained nurses during any walkout.
Sharp claims the union offered to call off the strike this week if Sharp had agreed to a counteroffer in which new nurses would be required to pay union dues and those who did not would be fired.
In an email to 10News Saturday, Jeff Rogers, a spokesperson for United Nurses, denied that such an offer was made. 
"It is false and directly contradicts the union’s position," Rogers wrote.
According to a company statement, Sharp remains "committed to individual choice for its nurses when it comes to paying dues."
The nurses intend to return to work Thursday.
The union delivered the required 10-day notice to the hospital chain's management on Nov. 17, a week after 98 percent of around 2,200 Sharp nurses who cast ballots rejected the company's latest bargaining offer.
One core issue listed by the union is pay, which union officials say is not in line with other large San Diego health care companies.
A second core issue is how to deal with cancellations when a nurse reports for his or her regularly-scheduled shift and is sent home.
Other issues include union representatives having access to the nurses in the hospitals and requiring employees to join the union.
Sharp officials said they had "offered numerous concessions and enhancements to previous proposals," which included changes in compensation and union representative access to hospitals.
Sharp previously offered to hike base pay by 16 to 26 percent over a three-year period, with nearly half implemented in the first year, according to the company.
However, union President Christina Magnusen said that was not entirely accurate.
"Only a quarter of the nurses could get that raise, at most," Magnusen said. "It's subject to management favoritism.
Some nurses could actually see pay cuts under that proposal and raises gained one year could be taken away the next. Clearly, it's not going to recruit and retain strong nurses."
According to Sharp, a report from the California Hospital Association found that the chain's 2015 full- and part-time nursing turnover rate was 8.4 percent, the lowest in San Diego County -- and this year's numbers were about the same.