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Nurses Begin 4-Day Walkout

Labor: St. Vincent staff strikes for higher pay; Queen of Angels workers agree to new pact.

August 08, 2002|CLAIRE LUNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Registered nurses at a Los Angeles hospital launched a four-day walkout Wednesday, the same day health workers at another facility announced a three-year contract following months of negotiations and two strikes.

About 350 registered nurses at St. Vincent Medical Center are expected to strike in a push for salary increases, especially for senior staff members, said David Johnson, spokesman for the California Nurses Assn.

The hospital has hired temporary nursing staff to ensure patient services are not disrupted, officials said. Administrators said they have not been given a chance to renew negotiations since nurses rejected a tentative agreement in mid-July.

Nurses at St. Vincent contend they are not paid comparably to others in the area with their level of experience.

"It's not fair," said Michelle Cabauatan, a nurse at St. Vincent for five years. She said new hires are paid more than she is.

"We're the ones mentoring and guiding them, but they're getting the bonuses."

Meanwhile, nurses and other health workers at Queen of Angels-Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center celebrated a contract with parent company Tenet Healthcare Corp.

The agreement will raise salaries at least 11% over three years, reduce employees' out-of-pocket costs for health benefits and include nurses on committees that make staffing and patient care decisions.

Workers said perseverance, including six months of negotiations and two walkouts earlier in the summer, paid off.

"We moved workers to fight for themselves," said social worker Sonya Jimmons. "And that unity and strength moved Tenet past their last, best and final offer."

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