UC nurses picket
UC nurses picket. Courtesy California Nurses Association/National Nurses United

UC San Diego Medical Center nurses rallied outside two hospitals Thursday as part of actions across the state amid contract talks between the UC system and the union.

The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United held the pickets and rallies outside Thornton Hospital in La Jolla and UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest earlier Thursday to press their demands in the contract negotiation process regarding scheduling, retirement benefits and overtime policies, according to the union.

“We have been in bargaining with UC for over eight months with dozens of takeaways still on the table that affect our ability to best care for our patients and undermine our quality of life,” said Maureen Berry, a nurse at UC Irvine. “As a public university, UC must respect and protect the patients and the communities we serve.”

The union says that its proposals would involve scheduling registered nurses based on patient illness needs rather than budgetary goals, protect nurses from being deployed in areas in which they have no expertise, and maintain protection from mandatory overtime.

The union represents 14,000 RNs at UC hospitals, medical centers and student health centers.

Demonstrations were also held at UC Irvine Health Douglas Hospital, Ronald Regan UCLA Medical Center and UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica and three others.

The demonstrations in San Diego did not disrupt patient care, a spokeswoman said.

A UC system spokeswoman said its proposal includes market-competitive wages, the same health insurance benefits as other UC employees and no change in pension benefits for current nurses.

“The university believes its proposal reflects the skills, contributions and dedication of its nurses,” the spokeswoman said. “We hope to come to an agreement with CAN as soon as possible to continue delivering excellent care and services to our patients.”

— City News Service