Nurses Bring Their Concerns to the Harvest Market

Photo provided by CNA
With negotiations rocky between USC-VHH nurses and the hospital, the nurses took their concerns to the people at the Harvest Market.


Registered nurses [RN] had a booth at Sunday’s Harvest Market in Montrose to bring attention to their current negotiations with USC Verdugo Hills Hospital.

“We started on negotiations with management and [they told us of] major takeaways [from the nurses],” said Yvette Sealy, a USC-VHH nurse. She added the nurses went into their contract negotiations thinking they would move forward and build on their last contract; however, according to Sealy, that is not the case.

The last time the California Nurses Association and the hospital were at the table was in 2015. That was a difficult negotiation that lasted over a year. At the time the nurses were asking for pay that, if not equal, would at least be closer to what RNs received at other Keck Hospitals. They received an amount closer to the general Keck pay.

The nurses were also asking to minimize the number of floaters, or temporary nurses, used at the site. They bring similar concerns this time to the negotiating table although, according to Sealy, they have not started talking about money.

“It is the reskilling nursing practice, [basically] giving other people the opportunity to do our job,” she said.

The issue is that the hospital is hiring nurses, who are not RNs, and reskilling them to do jobs that are specific to RNs. Reskilled workers are not equal to a trained RN, said Sealy.

“We had proposed to them an increase in staffing for the protection of our patients but they want to work with the minimum requirement of Title 22,” Sealy said.

Title 22 sets minimum standard requirements for patient versus care ratio. Sealy pointed out that when a situation requires an RN it doesn’t matter how many reskilled nurses there are; they are still working with a limited number of RNs.

“We are short-staffed and want to increase resources so we can at least take breaks,” said Dinorah Williams, CNA lead labor representative.

She added it is important to have RN skilled personnel, not just reskilled nurses, to fill the staff needs. In addition to reskilled staff, the nurses are concerned that the hospital is hiring nurses from agencies instead of having a staff of RNs that are part of the USC-VHH Keck system.

Williams said after the 2015-16 negotiations they felt this year negotiations would be easier. They had complained in 2015 of the negative negotiations but then there was a switch with the primary negotiator and things changed. The contract was ratified and the atmosphere for both the hospital and RNs was positive. That is why the nurses were surprised by the negative negotiation they are finding this year. So once again they took their worries to the community, like they did in 2015.

CVW reached out to USC-VHH but, as of press time, did not receive information. CVW will follow up next week on the negotiations.