Long Beach nurses threatening to strike

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Registered nurses in Long Beach say they’re ready to walk off the job if they don’t get a new contract soon.

A strike would involve nearly 2,000 registered nurses from Long Beach Memorial Medical Center and Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach. Nurses voted late last week to authorize a strike in advance of this week’s talks between representatives of the California Nurses Association and hospital administrators. The previous contract expired in late September. The two sides have been negotiating since July.

Along with salary and benefits issues, the nurses are pressing for changes in patient care. They want language that will keep them practicing only in their areas of specialty. Currently, to cover breaks, the hospitals allow nurse specialists to cross over into other areas of expertise. Hospital officials say the practice doesn’t hurt the quality of care; nurses insist it does.

The union is legally required to give the hospital ten days notice before striking. Hospital official say, if it comes to that, they’ll hire replacement nurses as they did during the last strike in 2002. Stephanie O’Neill, 89.3, KPCC.