Registered nurses at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center began a one-week strike Tuesday as they push for their first contract as members of the California Nurses Association union -- a tactic hospital officials called a disappointing attempt to disrupt patient care in the midst of contract talks.
The walkout will affect 1,200 RNs who voted in July 2015 to join the CNA, according to the union. Picketing was scheduled to begin around 7 a.m. with a rally set for midday in the 4800 block of Sunset Boulevard.
Union officials said they are pushing for upgraded patient-care staffing and improved economic benefits to attract new nurses and retain experienced ones.
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"If Kaiser is planning on using this medical center as its teaching hospital for their medical school, it is critical to improve patient care conditions especially for our region's sickest babies and kids, end floating and provide for a fair contract for nurses," said Aisha Ealey, a neo-natal intensive care unit RN at the hospital.
Ealey was referring to a medical school that Kaiser plans to open in Pasadena, with the first graduates expected in 2019.
The union contends that Kaiser has frozen wages for nurses at the hospital, and it also wants Kaiser to provide a contract with "strong patient- care provisions" similar to provisions in other CNA contracts with the medical group.
In a statement, Kaiser officials called the walkout a "disappointing tactic to try to influence the bargaining of a first-time contract."
"We believe it is entirely inappropriate to attempt to disrupt patient care or service as a bargaining tactic," according to Kaiser.
Hospital officials said plans are in place to ensure that patient care is not affected.