In a landslide vote this week, registered nurses at Sutter Coast Hospital in Crescent City are bringing union representation to the state’s northwest coast after voting by 85 percent to join the California Nurses Association.
“We are thrilled to be joining our 8,000 Sutter RN colleagues to bring a unified voice for advocating for safe patient care for our patients here in Crescent City, as well as throughout the Sutter system, which is even more critical in the midst of this deadly pandemic,” said Sutter Coast RN Niki Pope.
In a mail ballot election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board, the RNs voted 70 to 12 for the union, an 85 percent victory margin. CNA, an affiliate of National Nurses United, will represent about 100 RNs at the facility.
The vote followed months of organizing among the nurses seeking to ensure safer staffing and a collective voice in patient care conditions, as well as other strong health and safety protections for nurses and patients, including workplace violence protections and proper infectious disease controls.
“As nurses, having proper staffing for RNs and support staff, better training and education and high standards of care and safety are our priorities. With CNA, we can make sure that decisions are based on what’s best for our patients, not the bottom line,” said Sutter Coast RN Brea Buchanan.
Like other areas of the state, California’s north coast has experienced an increasingly serious surge in the Covid-19 pandemic. Nurses say Sutter Coast is not dedicating the resources to make sure that there are enough negative pressure rooms or that they are working properly.
“As a union, we can push for safer policies and accountability around workplace violence to better protect our staff and community,” said Anna Holmes, RN. “Our collective strength means we can enforce California’s workplace violence prevention regulations, which CNA helped pass in 2017, and increase staffing, training and education for all staff.”
CNA President Zenei Cortez, RN, offered the union’s welcome to the Sutter Coast RNs and thanked them “for your dedication to strengthening safety standards for your patients and workplace conditions for your co-workers, especially as you—along with nurses across the state and nation—face the danger of Covid-19. Congratulations, we’re thrilled to welcome you to the CNA family.”
Sutter Coast was one of the last remaining non-union facilities in the large Sutter Health system and serves patients from both Northern California and the bordering Southern Oregon coast.
CNA, the largest RN union in California, now represents RNs at 15 Sutter hospitals. The Sutter Coast vote follows a vote just two weeks ago by RNs at Sutter Center for Psychiatry Hospital in Sacramento, who voted by a similar margin to join CNA.
Including the 8,000 Sutter RNs, CNA represents 100,000 RNs and other health care workers in California alone, among the 170,000 members of NNU.
The Sutter Coast RNs will next elect members to prepare for negotiations with management for their first collective bargaining contract, highlighting improvements for their patients, staff and the community.
“At Sutter Coast, our patients are our neighbors, our family and our friends. We have the responsibility to care for them as such,” said Sutter Coast RN Blakely Winner. “I’m excited to join CNA to strengthen the collective voice of the nurses. I voted yes to advocate for improved patient care and a safe working environment for my colleagues.”