Unions: there’s dumb, and then there’s malevolent

September 19, 2011

Yesterday, I posted an example from Southern California of unions threatening a strike against the interests of their own members. This morning there comes another example of labor-union perversity, this time crossing the line from stupidity to maliciousness. Per “Bookworm” at Pajamas Media, we learn that nurses in northern and central California are planning to walk out on the hospitals that employ them not because of unfair working conditions, but in sympathy with another union’s strike:

Thousands of registered nurses plan to walk off the job at 34 hospitals in northern and central California on Thursday in one of the largest such labor actions here in years.

Up to 23,000 nurses could be involved in strikes at Children’s Hospital Oakland and the large Sutter Health and Kaiser Permanente systems, union leaders said.

The hospitals plan to bring in replacement workers and remain open, though many are postponing elective surgeries.


The walkout has been organized by California Nurses Association/ National Nurses United.

In addition to Children’s Hospital Oakland and Alta Bates Summit, affected institutions include Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, Mills-Peninsula hospitals in Burlingame and San Mateo, Sutter Delta in Antioch and Sutter Solano Medical Center in Vallejo.

Kaiser nurses signed a contract earlier this year, but they plan a sympathy strike Thursday to support members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers, who will walk off the job at Kaiser facilities in a separate contract dispute.

So, even though the Kaiser nurses have a signed agreement, they don’t feel bound to it. Nice to know just what their word is worth. I’ll point out that the CNA is known for being politically active and aggressive; they lean well to the Left, are closely tied to the Democratic Party, and are not above a bit of thuggery, including putting patients at risk. Bookworm explains:

Things are even more complicated than simply finding replacement nurses at incredible expense. Most of the hospitals involved now have very complicated computer systems that are custom designed for each hospital chain. These computer systems control everything: nurse’s notes, doctor’s notes, pharmacy, lab tests, treatments, billing — you name it, it’s all computerized. What these means is that hospitals are no longer fungible. In the old days, a chart was a chart, and that was true whether you were in a hospital in Schenectady or San Francisco. Nowadays, though, nurses have to understand computer systems that are unique to a given hospital. That nurse who’s been flown in from out-of-state doesn’t know Kaiser’s or Sutter’s computer system. For those nurses, it’s like having to fly a 747 when you’ve only flown a Piper before.

In other words, the chance for potentially harmful, even life-threatening error goes up measurably because nurses who already have a signed contract are going to strike anyway. And even if there are no computer-related snafus, many hospitals will be working at less than peak efficiency, being staffed with replacement workers, and patients may have to travel further to find the care they need. As the PJM post points out, this strike will leave Marin county with just one fully-functional hospital.

All because of a strike by nurses who have no grievance. This isn’t about wages or working conditions — this is a an act of intimidation, plain and simple.

“Angels of mercy,” indeed.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)