4,000 Sutter Health Nurses Start 10-Day Strike

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - About 4,000 nurses at eight Sutter Health
hospitals in the San Francisco Bay area started striking Friday over a dispute about health care and pension benefits and the closing of hospitals in poor areas.

The strike is expected to last 10 days. It affects hospitals in Antioch, Berkeley, Burlingame, Castro Valley, Oakland, San Francisco, San Mateo and Vallejo.

Hospital officials said they have brought in replacement nurses and that patient care won't be disrupted. All hospitals remain open.

The California Nurses Association says the walkout was triggered
by ongoing contract negotiations and Sutter practices that it says
puts patients at risk.

Sutter Health said it has met the levels of staffing, health care and retirement benefits the union has demanded from other hospitals. It said the union's "real goal is more members and more dues money."

Shum Preston, spokesman for the California Nurses Association, said that claim "is not what nurses are about. It's not why nurses are out here."

The California Nurses Association and its national arm, the National Nurses Organizing Committee, have a total of about 80,000 members in 50 states.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-03-21-08 1337EDT

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