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Nurses at O’Connor and St. Louise hospitals vow to strike Tuesday

Nurses at two Santa Clara County hospitals were scheduled to go on a one-day strike Tuesday morning.
Following up on a threat delivered last month, nurses at O’Connor Hospital in San Jose and St. Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy were set to walk off the job at 7 a.m., the California Nurses Association (CNA) announced Monday.
County Executive Jeffrey Smith said the hospitals would still be ready to serve patients.
“The county has taken all necessary steps to ensure that high-quality medical services, patient care, and all hospital operations will be unaffected by the CNA work action,” Smith said in a statement.
The union has represented more than 700 nurses at the two medical centers. But the county bought the hospitals recently from Verity Health System after the nonprofit went bankrupt and said nurses would need to join a rival union , the Registered Nurses Professional Association (RNPA), instead.
The RNPA represents nurses at the county’s other hospital, Valley Medical Center. But CNA members have resisted joining that union, pointing to lower wages and high turnover among the nurses it represents.
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“We will not be bullied into standing down and letting the county violate our legal right to stand up for ourselves and our patients,” Lianne Pounders, a registered nurse in O’Connor’s intensive care unit, said in a statement. “We are determined to exercise our legal right to strike, as the county refuses to recognize our democratically elected union.”
But Smith said CNA hasn’t taken the steps necessary to lawfully represent county employees, calling Tuesday’s strike unlawful.
“The nursing staff at O’Connor and St. Louise fall within existing county job classifications — such as Clinical Nurses or Patient Services Case Coordinators — that are already represented by other unions,” Smith said. “The county will continue to meet its obligation to recognize these other unions as the exclusive representatives of these new employees in accordance with its contracts and applicable laws, rules and regulations.”
The 358-bed O’Connor Hospital and the 93-bed St. Louise Hospital are safety-net hospitals, meaning they treat people regardless of insurance coverage or ability to pay.
Rallies are scheduled for noon at both hospitals and the strike is set to last through 6:59 a.m. on Wednesday morning.

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