Sacramento nurses win organizing battle
Courtesy of National Nurses United
Registered nurses who work in the Sutter Health’s Sutter Center for Psychiatry Hospital in Sacramento have voted by 83 percent to join the California Nurses Association. This is the largest free-standing psychiatric hospital in Northern California to achieve a union representation win in many years.
In a mail ballot election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board, the RNs voted 62 to 13 for the union – an 83 percent victory margin. The ballots were counted Wednesday, Dec. 23. CNA, an affiliate of National Nurses United, will represent 100 RNs at the facility.
“As patient advocates, we voted to join CNA to have a collective RN voice to make this a safer hospital for our patients and each other. Patient safety is our number one priority,” said Sutter Psych RN Natalya Yumin after the vote count.
CNA now represents 8,000 Sutter RNs throughout Northern California, and nearly 100,000 California RNs and other health care workers. NNU, the largest U.S. union of nurses, represents more than 170,000 nurses from California to Maine.
“Congratulations to the nurses at the Sutter Psych hospital in Sacramento, who put together an incredible campaign in the midst of this raging pandemic,” said CNA/NNU President Zenei Cortez, RN. “We are thrilled to welcome you to our CNA family, to join our fight to protect all Californians and improve workplace conditions for our frontline caregivers across the state.”
Sutter Psych RNs began their campaign in April to affiliate with CNA, and their colleagues at 13 other Sutter CNA-represented hospitals. They unified on a platform to win improvements in safe staffing, workplace violence prevention, a strong voice in overall patient safety and infectious disease protocols, a concern amplified by the mammoth Covid-19 pandemic.
“We want a voice in staffing and scheduling,” said Sutter Psych RNs Anna Ramahl and Tarra Martine in a joint statement during the campaign. “It’s our job to advocate for our patients and we are excited to do that through our union.”
“As a union, we can push for safer policies around Covid-19 and other infectious diseases,” said Sutter Psych RN Frank Mitchell during the campaign. “Our collective strength means we can fight for adequate and accessible PPE.”
“I’m voting yes for my patients, my profession, my colleagues, my family, and my community,” said Laura Dixon, RN. “As RNs, we need a strong collective voice to ensure we are able to retain good nurses and give the best care.
The victory at the Sacramento facility caps an impressive year of NNU election wins for 3,500 RNs across the U.S., which included the largest hospital union election in the South since 1975 in North Carolina in September. Nurses at another California Sutter hospital, Sutter Coast Hospital in Crescent City, are voting on CNA representation in January 2021.
“In a year of such pain and suffering for our patients, and the stress and toll it has placed on nurses across the country, the determination of nurses to join together to protect their patients and themselves is truly heart-warming and inspiring,” said Cortez. “It gives all of us hope for the new year.”