98% of Nurses at Cedars Sinai Marina Del Rey Vote To Strike

4 Min Read Published August 7, 2023
98% of Nurses at Cedars Sinai Marina Del Rey Vote To Strike

Source: Facebook 

Nurses at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital have reached their breaking point. Reportedly tired of management’s failure to address crucial issues like understaffing, the nurses union took an extreme step. On July 31, 2023, it voted overwhelmingly in favor of a nurse strike. Nursing staff say they want improved staffing conditions and better patient care.

Nurses Strike Over Recruitment and Retention

Critical recruitment and retention issues are top of mind at Cedars-Sinai Marina Del Rey Hospital in California. Employees say the hospital has invested in short-term agency nurses — at the cost of experienced staff. 

Fed-up nurses have left. Now those who remain are concerned about jeopardizing patient care. 

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Sophia Sabido is a registered nurse (RN) case manager in the Cedars-Sinai emergency room and bargaining team member for the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU) union. She spoke out about the growing concerns in a July 31, 2023, press release.

She said she witnessed the hospital lose highly qualified nurses this year. Yet the administration has refused to address the problems leading to the exodus. 

“Instead, management resorts to staffing our hospital with temporary contract nurses, who often outnumber Staff RNs,” explained Sabido. “We know the best nursing care comes from permanent RNs who are fierce advocates for their patients and are committed to improving the hospital.”

Image: Facebook

Contract Negotiations Have Stalled

The nurses’ collective bargaining agreement with Marina Del Rey Hospital expired on February 28, 2023. One month later, the nurses held a rally to voice their concerns. Negotiations with the hospital have dragged on for months since. 

The union said that the hospital management demanded that nurses waive their collective bargaining rights over key policies, including:

  • Education benefits

  • Paid time off

  • Leave of absence

  • Holidays

Union nurses believe these measures are critical for attracting and maintaining qualified employees — and they are what staff need to provide the best patient care. 

Kayla Guy, an RN on the medical-surgical-telemetry unit, expressed feelings that hospital management has been unsupportive. “Instead of ensuring current staff has what we need, they seem to be more focused on building in Qatar, building more new facilities, and paying their CEO millions of dollars a year,” she said in a union press release.

Cedars-Sinai Reported $6.9 Billion in Revenue

According to public documents, Cedars-Sinai Marina Del Rey is a non-profit hospital with 133 licensed beds. It is part of the Los Angeles-based Cedars-Sinai system, which encompasses five hospitals in California. 

The Cedars-Sinai health network boasts an impressive track record, ranking as the #1 hospital in California for 2023-2024 and eight years in a row in the U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals” Honor Roll. Yet, what may be more remarkable is the numbers it puts up in annual income. 

According to Becker’s Hospital CFO Report, Cedars-Sinai’s total revenue for last year was $6.9 billion, up from $5.8 billion the previous year. During the same period, salaries and related costs increased by 20.3 percent.

Nurses Betrayed by Lack of Support

“What’s happening right now is a betrayal,” said Merrilee Marks, an RN in the post-anesthesia care unit. “It makes it difficult to trust that Cedars-Sinai prioritizes the best interests of nurses and our patients.”

According to FOX 11 News Los Angeles, 98% of union members voted in favor of the strike. 

This referendum came just less than a year after a five-day strike at Marina Del Rey Hospital by unlicensed persons in December of 2022 . The Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) union represents nearly 400 non-nurse employees of Marina Del Rey Hospital, including the following:

  • Nursing assistants

  • Surgical technicians

  • Pharmacists

  • Dietitians

  • Lab assistants

  • Environmental services/housekeeping

  • Registration staff

This group protested for five days to negotiate better pay. Complaints about low wages and insufficient staffing have grown among Southern California healthcare workers.

Image: Employees at Marina Del Rey Hospital led a five-day protest in December 2022 for better pay. 

Cedars Says Union is Making False Claims

According to reports, Cedars issued a statement saying it has provided “strong market-based pay and benefits” that recognize and reward employees for their hard work and dedication. 

Management also claims that the union is distorting the negotiations. Dr. Jeff Smith, CEO of Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey, believes there is a simple misunderstanding about why nurses want specific contract language amended. Smith adds that for the hospital, it’s about standardizing benefits across the board to guarantee that everyone is treated equitably.

“We really do think we’re close (to a finalized contract),” said Smith. “I’m hopeful that with a little better understanding about the educational benefits, paid time off and leave of absence, we’ll reach an agreement.”

What’s Next for Marina Del Rey Hospital

Now that the union has authorized a strike, the next step will be a letter to the hospital administration about the intent to strike, allowing the hospital time to prepare.

The hospital has said it will stay open and fully operational throughout the strike and is committed to guaranteeing no disturbance to patients, staff, or the surrounding area. It has also asked that staff carry on business as usual. 

“While we respect the right of our represented employees to participate in a strike, we strongly believe these kinds of activities distract from important work that can only be done through constructive discussions at the bargaining table,” Cedars said.

Many are hoping for a quick and reasonable resolution. “We’re not asking to be treated as heroes, “said Matthew Booe, a medical-surgical-telemetry RN and bargaining unit member. “We’re just dedicated professionals deserving of a contract that affords us an assurance of dignity and security.”

Sarah Falcone
Sarah Falcone
Nurse.org Contributor

Sarah S. Falcone, BSN, RN, is a nurse and health content writer in Fort Worth, TX. She has worked in various settings, including Med-Surg and L&D, but home health has her heart. Sarah is a passionate advocate for moving advanced levels of care to the home, where her clients can safely receive medical treatments they need, with greater satisfaction and comfort. She focuses on patient experience, outcomes, and advancing clinical models using innovative technology to serve patients better. Sarah draws from 15 years of practicing patient care and nursing leadership, to share her own nursing experiences and expertise online. Connect with her on LinkedIn!

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