University of California nurses hold rallies to protest staffing shortages

Stymied in their plans to hold a one-day strike, registered nurses at University of California hospitals in the Southland and across the state are holding rallies today to protest what they call dangerous staffing shortages.

"Our number-one priority remains correcting the chronic staffing issues at University of California medical centers, which we have been unable to resolve through any other means," said Beth Kean, chief negotiator for the California Nursing Association's UC Division. "All the resources the university has wasted trying to silence the nurses will do nothing to solve the staffing crisis at UC hospitals, and nurses will not rest until their concerns are addressed."

A judge in San Francisco issued a restraining order Tuesday blocking the planned one-day strike by nurses at UC hospitals and various other medical centers.

UC officials have denied allegations by the nurses' union the hospitals were short-staffed.

"Union allegations about inadequate staffing simply have no merit," according to a statement issued last month. "Patient safety is a top concern and we adhere to all staffing laws."

The university's "exemplary" record in maintaining nurse-to-patient ratios was recently confirmed by a neutral, third-party mediator, according to the statement.

According to the university, it offered a 2 percent across-the-board raise for nurses effective in September, and when the union did not respond to that offer, it implemented the increase last month.

"The university is again prepared to do whatever it takes to ensure the safety of our patients in the face of a threatened strike by CNA," the UC statement said.

With the judge's order blocking the planned one-day walkout, nurses plan to hold rallies at various hospitals. The court order was requested by the state Public Employment Relations Board.

Rallies will be held at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange, Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center, Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center in San Pedro and Citrus Valley Medical Center in Covina.

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