Tuesday , June 18 2024
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Nurses strike for higher pay

An estimated 1,200 nurses at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center walked off the job Tuesday in a dispute regarding wages and working conditions.

The nurses are scheduled to return to work Thursday after two days on the picket line, and in the meantime contract talks are ongoing, according to officials on both sides of the dispute.

The striking health care workers claim that their pay scale is 30 to 50 percent lower than pay at similar-sized private hospitals in the Inland Empire, said Chuck Idelson, spokesman for the California Nurses Association.

Over time, the low pay has caused many nurses at Arrowhead Regional in Colton – which is owned by San Bernardino County – to get jobs at better-paying hospitals, Idelson said.

“There’s been a real drain away from Arrowhead Regional,” said Idelson, who said the nurses at Arrowhead Regional have not had a pay raise in six years. “What’s been created is a situation in which taxpayers in San Bernardino County are subsidizing private hospitals.”

But the non-partisan Hospital Association of Southern California has found that pay for nurses at Arrowhead Regional is on par with other nurses’ pay in the region, said David Wert, San Bernardino County spokesman.

“They’re asking for a 20 percent pay increase,” Wert said. “I don’t think anyone is going to get that kind of increase in this economy.

Wert called it “irresponsible” for the nurses to walk off the job while contract negotiations are being held.

“Usually, you don’t strike unless talks break down,” he said.

Some temporary nurses have been hired, and some patients are being diverted to other hospitals during the walkout, Wert said.

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