Unionized nurses at Sharp HealthCare have given notice they will strike for three days starting Nov. 28 unless the two sides can reach an agreement on wage increases.
The Sharp Professional Nurses Network, an affiliate of the United Nurses Association of California/Union of Health Care Professionals, announced the strike plan Nov. 18, a little more than a week after its members at the health system voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike.
Sharp called the union’s announcement a “radical action,” saying it was disappointed the group has chosen to “put our patients in the center” of a contract disagreement. The company said it will be ready with replacement nurses if the strike occurs.
Sharp has proposed a 16 percent raise to all its nurses, and increases of up to 26 percent based on individual experience and advancement. By contrast, the union has called for a 31 percent raise during the term of the next contract.
The company declared an impasse in contract negotiations Oct. 28 and moved to implement its final offer to the union, which asserted talks had been progressing when Sharp declared them finished. The union denounced the company’s decision to end negotiations and filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board.
“We feel like we’re voices crying in the wilderness and Sharp refuses to hear us,” the Sharp union’s president, registered nurse Christina Magnusen, said in a news release. “Sharp’s on track to lose 700 nurses in 2016, up from 605 last year and 514 the year before that.”
Sharp says its nurse turnover rate — 8.4 percent in 2015 — is lower than those in San Diego, Southern California and the state in general. It accuses the union of pushing for unrealistic wage increases tied to a demand that all nurses pay union dues.
“We unquestionably believe their labor practice claims are a smokescreen to force Sharp to meet their true demands,” Sharp Executive Vice President Dan Gross said in a news release. He added the company hopes to reach an agreement to avoid a strike.
Sharp has four acute-care and three specialty hospitals, as well as a health plan, two affiliated medical groups and outpatient facilities.