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St. Mary’s nurses strike over staffing concerns, working conditions

This is a recurring recording of KOLO 8 News Now at 10.
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 12:24 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - On Thursday morning, a sea of strikers in red t-shirts lined the sidewalk outside of Saint Mary’s once again. In a party-like atmosphere, nurses and supporters demanding hospital administrators address their demands.

“They delay, they delay, they’ve offered nothing of realistic value,” said Tamara Erickson who worked as a registered nurse at Saint Mary’s for 32 years but is now retired. “We feel that if we can’t keep the nurses here, we can’t keep patients safe.”

Since the start of negotiations in October of last year, staff has raised concerns over worker-to-patient ratios, the need for improved PPE and competitive wages to battle the high turnover.

“Nurses are powerful professionals, we do not deserve to be walked all over,” said Alyssa Watson, travel registered nurse. “We are here just to support our patients.”

Watson claims she was terminated this week due to complaints she made about working conditions.

Some non-union nurses were still working today, but more than 400 voted for the strike Thursday.

This is not the first protest this year, in February the union held an informational picket, which strikers say resulted in nothing.

“The only thing they did was, they came back, gave us an option to sign up for free turkeys in February, in February we had two weeks to sign up for a free turkey,” said Lena Tran, registered nurse at Saint Mary’s.

So far, the hospital has been very tight-lipped about negotiations. In a statement, a Saint Mary’s spokesperson released the following statement:

Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center places patient care and staff and patient safety as our highest priority. The California Nurses Association (CNA) union provided notice of their intention to strike and picket over a 1-day period on June 23, 2022. During this period, we will continue to provide safe, high-quality care to patients and operate without interruption. It is our privilege to be a trusted source for care in our community, and we are hopeful that a labor agreement can be reached.

The strike started around 7 a.m. and stopped around 8:00 p.m. Nurses will be back around 4:00 a.m. Friday to continue striking until 7:00 a.m.

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