It's back to the bargaining table for the registered nurses at San Diego’s Sharp HealthCare, whose plan for a three-day strike starting Monday was called off after management offered improvements to their earlier proposal.
"Over the past week, Sharp has made slight improvements in some of their proposals addressing nurse turnover,” said Christina Magnusen, RN, president of Sharp Professional Nurses Network (SPNN), an affiliate of the United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC/UHCP). “Sharp seems to now recognize the need to be in a better position to recruit nurses, and keep them once they’ve spent the money to train and orient them, so they will stay and make a career at Sharp. We remain hopeful that we can more fully tackle this crucial issue and complete the contract."
Negotiations resumed Tuesday.
The key issue – nurse recruitment and retention – has been the sticking point as the nurses contend that inadequate pay is the cause of high turnover at the Southern California hospital chain. More than 500 nurses have left the company in just the first nine months of this year because hourly pay is $8 to $15 less than what other nurses earn at area health organizations.
Talks to craft a contract that addresses such concerns, and others, have been going on since July. In October, more than 300 nurses and allies gathered in solidarity with Sharp Healthcare nurses at the San Diego Convention Center.
A 10-day strike notice demonstrated to management that the nurses were committed to resolving the recruitment and retention problem, and ending what the nurses said was Sharp’s repeated violations of federal labor law, including prematurely abandoning negotiations.
Last week, skycaps, baggage handlers and cabin cleaners worked extra hard, on the busiest days of the year, to get air travelers to their Thanksgiving destinations as safely and efficiently as possible.
This week, they’re insisting on fair pay for all the important work they do.
On Tuesday, AFSCME joined SEIU, UNITE-HERE, other unions, faith and community leaders for a rally at Washington National Airport to insist on a $15 an hour wage and a union for airport contract workers.
Hundreds of people gathered to stand in solidarity with the workers, many of whom are living in poverty, making less than $7 per hour plus unreliable tips. Aynalem Lale, a wheelchair dispatcher at Dulles Airport, spoke about her daily struggle and what a well-deserved raise would mean in her life.
“If I made $15 an hour,” she said, “I would only [need] one job, and I would not have to sleep in the airport between jobs.” She added: “We deserve respect and…job security and enough to support our families.”
Following the rally, the crowd marched nearly a mile to the other end of the airport to present the demand for a raise at the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority offices. Workers also authorized a vote to strike during the December holidays.
This airport march and rally was just one of more than 300 events occurring nationwide, to mark four years to the day since the launch of the Fight for $15 movement. Tens of thousands of people participated in protests and demonstrations, a day of disruption that included acts of civil disobedience in front of McDonald’s restaurants from coast to coast.
The Fight for $15 has enjoyed resounding success in a short period of time, already leading to wage increases for more than 22 million people. But AFSCME and its partners won’t quit fighting until all working families get the dignity and respect they deserve, until they get at least the $15 per hour it takes to make ends meet.
Last week, families came together to express gratitude for all the blessings in our lives. If your Thanksgiving table was anything like mine, there was plenty of lively debate about politics and current affairs, about what a Trump administration will mean for our country’s future.
First, it cannot mean a rise in hate speech. It must not mean attacks on women, religious minorities, LGBTQ people and communities of color.
There’s no question that white nationalists have been emboldened by this election, or that Donald Trump has stoked fear and resentment for political advantage. This has to stop, and the president-elect has an obligation to stop it. It’s the very opposite of what makes America great.
If he is truly committed to unity and healing, there may be opportunities for cooperation — perhaps on infrastructure investment, as long as it provides good-paying jobs and not just corporate boondoggles. I don’t believe obstructionism should be our default position, as it was for the right wing from the moment President Obama was elected. There’s too much at stake for short-term political brinkmanship. We in the labor movement and the progressive community will work with President-elect Trump when — but only when — doing so aligns with our values.
The Trump campaign tapped into legitimate frustration on the part of so many working people. It’s time to address this economic insecurity, and we will hold the president-elect’s feet to the fire to ensure that he does.
But in many cases, the Trump governing agenda seems to contradict the Trump campaign platform.
If fighting for the forgotten woman and man is the president-elect’s goal, for example, it’s unclear how trillions in tax cuts for the wealthy get us there. The same goes for a rollback of the Obama administration rule allowing millions more Americans to receive overtime pay. And if wresting power from the elites is a defining principle of a Trump presidency, does it make any sense to undo regulations that rein in greed and excess on Wall Street?
For generations, it’s been the labor movement that has led the way in lifting living standards for working people. Why, then, would someone who claims to be working people’s champion pursue a national right-to-work law that would crush collective bargaining rights? Although Trump suggested he would shore up the retirement safety net, there are indications that he will move to privatize Medicare and convert Medicaid to a block grant program.
Such an approach would mean Draconian benefit cuts inflicting pain and hardship on millions of people. It is also deeply unpopular. Recent polling shows that 80 percent of Trump voters believe “protecting Social Security and Medicare” should be a priority for the incoming administration and new Congress.
Donald Trump was elected on a pledge to help working people. Now is his chance to show us, not tell us. We will give him every opportunity to prove his sincerity, and we will not miss an opportunity to oppose him if he doesn’t.