By Henni Espinosa
OAKLAND, California – About 800 nurses from Children’s Hospital of Oakland began a 5-day strike this morning. About 30 percent of the staff are Filipino. The walkout is to protest management’s efforts to make the nurses pay a portion of their health care insurance, which would amount to about $4,000 a year.
Aina Gagui a nurse at the Children’s Hospital of Oakland said, “That $4,000 will even go up in the next years to come — because health care costs are rising. And that scares me.”
Management said the $4,000 contribution will not cause a dent in the nurses’ $130,000 a year salary.
Nurse, Rachel Marabuto added, “I know I don’t earn that much. And $4,000 is a lot of money. It will affect us.”
Michelle Cruz the mother of a 12-year-old son who gets treatments at the hospital said, “The nurses have to stay happy to be doing the kind of things that they do.”
Hospital management said they have no choice but to ask the nurses to pay their fair share for health care.
Spokesperson for the Children’s Hospital of Oakland,Cynthia Chiarappa explained, “In the last few years, the hospital has lost $69 million dollars. With the rising health care costs, we can no longer afford to shoulder it on our own.”
Management said the nurses either pay their fair share or risk getting laid off.
At the end of the 5-day strike, management said the nurses will not be locked out. In fact, they say 30 percent of the nurses have already crossed the picket line.