It’s official! LA County Registered Nurses have reached a Tentative Agreement with County management, averting a historic 4-day strike that would have affected public hospitals serving 11 million residents.
Registered Nurses were readyto hit the picket lines in order to force the County to address a chronic retention crisis that has put patients at risk for years.
After a resounding vote to authorize a strike, followed by a series of actions at the LA County Board of Supervisors – management called nurses back to the table and requested to resume negotiations. Bargaining intensified over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and ended with the preliminary TA just hours before the strike was set to begin.
“I am so proud of our Registered Nurses,” said Bob Schoonover, President of SEIU Local 721, which represents the RNs. “Because of their determination and their compassion for their patients, we are on a real pathway to finally solving this nurse retention crisis and ending California labor law Title 22 violations. That means better patient care for tens of thousands of people. It’s all thanks to the solidarity and relentlessness of our Registered Nurses.”
More than 7,000 RNs are represented by SEIU 721 and were prepared to begin a 4-day strike at 7 a.m. on Tuesday. It would have been the first strike by LA County Registered Nurses since 1993.
The move to strike came after months of stalled negotiations during which County management refused proposals to address nurse retention and broke labor laws by participating in regressive bargaining.
With the Tentative Agreement reached late Monday night, nurses were successful in getting the County to agree to mechanisms to reduce Title 22 nurse-to-patient ratio violations and secure funding that will keep RNs in the areas where they are most needed.
“I can not begin to say how proud I am of all the hard work Registered Nurses put into making this victory a reality,” said Jade Seaman, a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist at Harbor UCLA.“This was not an easy fight by any means, it took bargaining around the clock, countless calls and emails to the Board of Supervisors, actions at our worksites and above all our unrelenting commitment our patients and their care. From the beginning we made it clear that we would do whatever it takes and all our efforts were worth it because our patients are worth it.”
Nurses made repeated trips to the LA County Board of Supervisors where they delivered passionate testimonies recounting the effects the retention crisis was having on patients. They also called, emailed and sent Tweets to supervisors, urging them to direct health managers back to the bargaining table. Patients and community advocates also stood by Registered Nurses and news of the impending strike was covered by the Los Angeles Times and Channel 7 Eyewitness news on Monday night as pressure mounted on the County to reach a fair agreement.
Jenny Veliz-Urzua, a Nurse Practitioner who has worked at Harbor-UCLA for 12 years, said the victory was a prime example of what can be achieved when workers refuse to be divided.
“The key was that we stood united and that’s what really got County back to the table with an agreement that prioritizes patient safety and nurse retention,” said Veliz-Urzua, who served as an elected member of the RN bargaining team. “Many people doubted us but we came together and did what everyone said couldn’t be done. We showed the County we were serious about striking for our patient’s safety and forced them to come back to the table in orderto retain the high-quality nurses LA County residents deserve.”
More details of the Tentative Agreement will be coming soon and RNs will receive copies of the official TA for review. The TA will then need to be voted on and ratified before it can take effect for the next three years.