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Press Release: Nurses issue 10-day strike notice at Riverside Community Hospital and plead for staffing and safety.

June 23, 2020

For Immediate Release: Monday, June 22, 2020 CONTACT: Terry Carter, (805) 312-0024

Nurses’ frustration levels skyrocket as hospital’s lack of safety before & during pandemic continues. Cuts to staffing and other changes implemented unilaterally by the hospital.

**Riverside, CA–**Registered Nurses at Riverside Community Hospital (RCH) issued a strike notice on June 15, following a breakdown in discussions over patient and Nurse safety issues due to short-staffing. Last year, even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Nurses successfully urged the hospital to increase staffing and end many of its unsafe practices, which resulted in an improved staffing agreement. Recently, the hospital ended that agreement.

Instead of taking extra precautions during this pandemic, the hospital continues to cut corners and take risks with Nurses’ and patients’ lives. By ending the agreement, hospital administrators have basically sent a message that:

Although a dangerous lack of PPE has been a problem at all 121RN hospitals, HCA hospitals were particularly unprepared for the shortage, even when we asked them for their staffing, health and safety, infection control and preparedness plans regarding the disease—on February 6—well before COVID-19 evolved into a pandemic. In a union-wide member survey, it was the wealthy HCA hospitals that had some of the lowest marks for available PPE (survey results here). The hospital continues to aggressively ration items for “the surge,” regardless of how many are getting infected now, causing less nurses to be at work taking care of patients.

Nurses in the COVID-19 and ICU units care for more patients than they can safely handle, creating an increased risk of negative patient outcomes and preventing nurses from giving their patients the time and attention they need. In addition:

At the same time, Riverside Community Hospital is part of the largest, wealthiest for-profit healthcare corporation in the nation:

Long before Nurses at Riverside delivered their strike notice, the hospital began recruiting nurses who will earn more than they did in their current jobs: up to $980 per shift, plus a $150 “Show Up” bonus as well as other perks.  They can easily agree to staff the hospital appropriately so that nurses can fully focus on their patients, and patients can receive the care they need.

The Nurses plan to strike from June 26 through July 6.  Contract negotiations begin on July 7, and the Union will focus on staffing and health and safety, including hospital preparedness during states of emergency.

Never in the history of SEIU Local 121RN have Nurses held a strike prior to contract negotiations—an unprecedented action during unprecedented times against an incomparably profitable hospital corporation.

SEIU Local 121RN represents registered nurses and other healthcare professionals in California. This member-led organization is committed to supporting optimum working conditions that allow nurses to provide quality patient care and safety.