After a five-day strike, registered nurses have started returning to their jobs at Children’s Hospital in Oakland. The nurses, represented by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, walked out on May 5 over a dispute about health care benefits.
The union claims it initiated the strike after Children’s Hospital proposed to sharply reduce health care coverage for nurses and their families. Under the hospital’s proposal, nurses would pay more than $4,000 per year in health insurance premium contributions, in addition to larger deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums and higher co-payments for prescription drugs and office visits.
The hospital claims it offered nurses three health care options:
- 100% employer-paid coverage through a health maintenance organization
- 100% employer-paid coverage through a preferred-provider organization
- A preferred-provider organization option, which would require pretax employee contributions ranging from $111 to $311 a month.
The health care cuts, the union alleges, would leave the nurses “well below community standards” offered by other Bay Area hospitals. In addition, the cuts would undermine the hospital’s ability to recruit and retain nurses.
This was the second strike for the Children’s Hospital nurses, 800 of whom have been working without a contract since July of 2010, following a three-day strike in October 2010.