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Jul-28-2007 01:38printcommentsVideo

California Nurses Demonstrate Against Low Pay and Lost Benefits (VIDEO)

A labor representative says nurses in other states including Oregon could face a similar fate.

California nurses strike in San Luis Obispo July 26, 2007
Photos by Bonnie King
Photojournalist/Editor: Tim King

(SAN LUIS OBISPO, Ca.) - California's lowest paid nurses live mid-way between Los Angeles and San Fransisco, in an area known for its high cost of living.

The California Nurses Association demonstrated in front of San Luis Obispo's French Hospital Medical Center, a member of CHW, on July 26th. They say want a contract that doesn't involve continuing low pay and now, the loss of benefits.

Their mantra is "A Voice for Nurses- a Vision for Healthcare," they say a lack of healthcare is a national issue and this demonstration is one example of how nurses have had to defend their own rights and at the same time, defend the rights of their patients.

This is what they are doing in California. Labor Representative Kevin Baker says nurses in Oregon may face a similar fate if trends continue.

"I would see this as being an issue that is nationwide, in Oregon as well. You know the biggest issue more than anything, is that there is profit in healthcare. When there is profit in healthcare, this is what you get. You have folks standing on the sidewalk. We take profit out of healthcare, stop calling our patients customers, start calling them patients, and start treating them that way, and these type of won't happen. Yeah, this could affect nurses in Oregon, patients in Oregon, this is a nationwide movement these nurses are fighting right now."

Hundreds of nurses and their supporters from hospitals on California’s central coast picked up picket signs Thursday to show their solidarity against low pay and an ongoing lack of a contract.

Nurses in this area make much less than those throughout California, $10 less than nurses at Mt. Shasta, and $15 less than Sacramento, for the same job.

Baker says the hospitals have to stop worrying about profits, and they must stop seeing patients as customers. "They spend their entire lives caring for others and the eay it is laid out now, there will be no one to care for them."

The historic San Luis Obispo area is a destination for upscale visitors and homeowners… with an above average cost of living, making nursing here unaffordable.

Mugs Haugan is a Registered Nurse at French Hospital. She says the cost of living is so out of line with nursing salaries, that they can't keep good nurses in their hospitals. "They go to Cuesta college and Hancock College which are our community colleges, we train them and a year later they are going elsewhere. So it is a big problem and we want to change, we need to change these things, we have to change these things for the safety of our patients."

How this area handles this nursing crisis will determine the future of thousands of people who count on them, as well as serving as a current example of how nursing is valued in our country.

Fellow nurses took to the streets all across California in support of their peers on the central coast, and are watching closely to see what the CHW will bring to the table next.



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Henry Ruark July 29, 2007 11:35 am (Pacific time)

Bonnie's video tells it like it really is...right out of the mouths of those working to save and benefit lives. Even doctors now are forced into working as salaried serfs, forced to provide fast service and more per hour, per new study by Harvard management expert. "Stay tuned" for more to come re YOUR PERSONAL interest in healthcare, which is human right recognized universally.

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