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Nurses picket Mountain View campus over contract stalemate with El Camino Hospital

 

Dozens of nurses hit the pavement with colorful signs early Tuesday morning, kicking off an all-day demonstration outside El Camino Hospital over what they call unjustifiable cuts and lackluster wages at a time when the hospital's budget is booming.

Nurses marching along Grant Road, many just finishing a lengthy night shift, are braving the heat after the hospital's leadership proposed a new three-year contract that they describe as unacceptable. The contract offers wage increases that fall short of the rising cost of living while simultaneously chipping away at compensation rates that nurses have long fought to preserve, they said.

Union leaders announced last week that they have reached an impasse with the hospital following mediated negotiations.

"We don't deserve any 'take aways' in our contract," said Nina Rovai, a 19-year nurse working at the Mountain View campus. She said El Camino's nurses have faced cuts in every contract negotiation since 2010, regardless of the economy and the hospital's budget.

The proposed three-year contract with the Professional Resource for Nurses (PRN), which represents 1,269 nurses across the Mountain View and Los Gatos campuses, provides a 3% raise each year, falling short of the 10% wage increases over the term of the contract that PRN sought. The hospital's offer also comes with proposed pay cuts to per diem nurses and nurses working night shift, who would drop from earning 20% in extra pay to 18%.

Nurses working at the hospital for at least 30 years would receive a $1,000 "longevity" bonus as part of the agreement, but nurses say that hardly makes up for the fact that the hospital's pay scale for longevity essentially caps out at 20 years.

El Camino's CEO Dan Woods released a statement Tuesday describing the "careful" approach to PRN contract negotiations, adding that the hospital has met with the union 15 times in an effort to find a resolution in the best interest of all parties, including patients. Woods said he believes a compromise can be reached.

"We remain focused on a fair bargaining process as we continue negotiations. We remain confident that a mutually acceptable agreement will be reached soon so our nurses may move forward and can continue to focus on caring for our patients," Woods said.

No individual setback or compromise in the proposed contract is necessarily a deal-breaker, said PRN president Catherine Walke. But taken altogether, the agreement simply doesn't go far enough to support nurses when the hospital is asking them to do more with less, and cutting nursing assistants and "break nurses" -- assigned to cover for nurses while they are on break -- to save money.

"I want the nurses to be valued and appreciated and respected, and one of the ways is compensation," Walke said. "But it's also making sure that they have colleagues who can support them."

For many of the protesting nurses, the proposed cuts to compensation make little sense as the hospital posts record-breaking profits. In the 2017-18 fiscal year, the nonprofit hospital reported over $197 million in so-called "net income," and is poised to have another banner year with $142 million in excess revenue after expenses at the end of the 2018-19 year. The hospital has enough cash on hand to keep the hospital running for well over a year, according to its most recent financial reports.

Nurses are the backbone of the hospital's workforce and an integral part of patient quality, said one protester, who declined to be named. El Camino is consistently awarded the Magnet designation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center because of the consistent high-quality work by PRN employees, and yet the hospital is seeking to slash compensation in the face of economic prosperity, she said.

"What they're trying to do is give us a raise but take away in other places," she said. "We're at a loss wondering where we're hurting (financially)."

Throughout the contract negotiation, which is now headed into a fact-finding process, Walke said hospital representatives have fought to bring down labor costs to what it calls "in market." In other words, if compensation rates and costs exceed what other hospitals are paying, there's pressure to modify the contract to bring things like night shift pay down to what might be offered at another hospital, like Kaiser.

But it never goes the other way, she said. If the hospital is spending less for nurses who have worked at El Camino for 25 years, that never gets factored into the discussion. The hospital also saves millions of dollars by forcing nurses to take unpaid days when they aren't needed.

"El Camino Hospital always wants to be 'in market' for their work force but they seem to pick and choose," Walke said.

Weathering the compromises in 2010 when the hospital faced deficit spending hurt, but at least it was understandable, Rovai said. And while some of those cuts were eventually rolled back, nurses have to face a new onslaught of compromises every three years. The nurses know the hospital is doing very well financially, making it all the more upsetting.

"They have given some of the things back but it's really frustrating to know what you know and they still say, 'Well, we need to make cuts,'" she said.

This story has been updated to include comments from El Camino's CEO Dan Woods.

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Comments

26 people like this
Posted by Robyn
a resident of another community
on Jun 11, 2019 at 2:53 pm

How about returning the surplus of this booming budget to the taxpayers who service bonds every year?


45 people like this
Posted by JohnB
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 11, 2019 at 3:18 pm

I've been an overnight patient at ECH on several occasions over the past couple years, and the Nurses are like our extended family, providing front line care and attention to us patients. As profitable as our non-profit hospital is... ECH should be investing in care, not cutting it -- I'd be glad to let my bond payments go the the Nurses.


28 people like this
Posted by Nurse for life
a resident of another community
on Jun 12, 2019 at 1:12 pm

I am a nurse at El Camino. When I started what I loved was how much the staff loved working there. It was contagious. I have been through three contract negotiations now. With every one I feel more and more demeaned by the hospital when we have to beg for benefits that allow us to live in the area that we work. While the hospital thinks they’re being savvy by negotiating with us, they are causing irreparable damage to their nurses. They may save pennies, but the damage they do the nurses feelings about where they work can never be repaired. Can you please stop playing this game of chicken and give us a respectable contract and let us get back to what we love and that is patient care.


25 people like this
Posted by Rory
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2019 at 3:36 pm

I currently work as a Registered Nurse at El Camino Hospital. Administration has done not one thing to make our job easier or less stressful. Each day, we have something new added to our ever-growing list of duties. We are in a life-saving business. Most days, we are berated by our patients and assaulted by our patients. Management has done NOTHING to help alleviate this growing crisis.

El Camino Hospital Administration & Cheryl Reinking, I challenge you all to walk a day in a nurses shoes. We carry out the ridiculous requests you mandate each and every day. Cheryl, you should also be very ashamed of yourself for not standing up for YOUR nurses during these contract negotiations. Your 31 years at El Camino Hospital is laughable. We WILL NOT tolerate management overlooking their most prized workforce. Our picket was just the beginning. See you again soon.


21 people like this
Posted by DISGRUNTLED RN
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2019 at 3:54 pm

FAKE MAGNET HOSPITAL. Not only does El Camino Hospital's administrators NOT care about NURSES but they ONLY care about getting yet another certification that doesn't change the amazing care that the BEDSIDE NURSES come to give day in and day out. Magnet hospitals are supposed to have a HIGH LEVEL OF JOB SATISFACTION AND LOW TURNOVER RATE. Why don't you go and see how many traveler nurses work in each unit to make up for LACK OF STAFF from good RNs quitting??? Every week, management puts yet another thing on the nurses' plates to do to appease executives so if you aren't getting your pain medication quickly enough, THAT'S BECAUSE THE NURSES ARE TIED UP MEETING ANOTHER DEMAND FROM MANAGEMENT!

WE WANT A FAIR CONTRACT. MAJORITY OF NURSES CAN'T LIVE WITHIN 30 MINS OF THEIR JOB BECAUSE IT IS TOO EXPENSIVE while EXECUTIVES RACK IN HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS IN BONUSES AND LIVE WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE TO THE HOSPITAL.

#supportyournurses #FAKEMAGNETHOSPITAL


25 people like this
Posted by January
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2019 at 4:48 pm

I am a proud Registered Nurse at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View. The nurses are fighting for a fair and equitable contract from a "non-profit" hospital that made a generous PROFIT of over $140 million last year (after all expenses paid). All we are fighting for are no takeaways from pay and benefits, and a fair market cost of living pay raise. El Camino has showed their nurses and community that they do not respect or care about nurses. They have showed us that they only care about profits and taking away benefits from those who take care of their patients.

There is a reason why nursing has been voted the MOST trusted profession every year by the community. Nurses are the backbone of the hospital. We are on the front lines of patient care. We are at our patient’s bedsides providing exceptional care. We advocate for our patient's best interests. Nurses are an investment in patient care, not an expense. We are not requesting anything unreasonable.

Cheryl Reinking is the Chief Nursing Officer for El Camino Hospital. Cheryl’s track record shows that she does not respect, value or support the bedside nurses. She is working with the hospital in the negotiations, not the nurses she is supposed to support and represent. The only communication we have received from Cheryl was the day before our community informational picket. Manipulation? Bully tactics? Are you getting a raise this year Cheryl? How about a nice bonus? All the nurses want are NO TAKEAWAYS and a small annual raise for cost of living increases.

Having a Magnet Hospital status sounds wonderful. In reality, ECH does not value the opinions or contributions of their nurses. Their actions show that they don’t respect nurses. The nurses will remember how you treated us. We hope you sleep well at night with your bonuses and pay increases stuffed in your perfectly fluffed pillows. While your nurses drive 30+ miles away, where they can afford to live.

Our nurses deserve no takeaways. We deserve respect. We deserve fair market pay raises for cost of living increases. Please support your community nurses and contact the administrators at ECH. Let them know that nurses deserve better than they are offering. We care for and support our community and patients 24/7. Thank you to the community for coming by to support us yesterday. Your honking horns, waves and words of support and encouragement were appreciated. We will always be there to support you in your time of need, and we appreciate you supporting us.


20 people like this
Posted by Local Doctor
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2019 at 7:45 pm

ECH Quit with the negotiations and just do what the nurses are asking for, it’s very reasonable. Your hospital will be all the better for it and everyone including the patients will benefit. No doubt the nurses are the backbone of an excellent hospital and all of the other staff are also crucial to having a well run facility.


15 people like this
Posted by March
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2019 at 8:18 pm

El Camino Hospital has historically been one of the best hospitals in the Bay area. ECH boasts innovations in patient care, unparalleled nurse satisfaction and the prestigious Magnet Status. Today, staff were notified that the hospital was awarded the Patient Blood Management certification. ECH is one of the only hospitals in Northern California to obtain this certification.

Please do not be fooled by these many "prestigious" certifications. ECH administration has lost vision of this once great hospital. Despite an impressive gain in revenue to the tune of $144 million, ECH administration has targeted nurses as high risk and "underachievers." ECH administration proposed massive pay cuts to it's nurses, laughable longevity "bonuses" and a decreased ancillary workforce. ECH boasts tremendous staff satisfaction on their website. This, sadly, is just not the case.

Yesterday, ECH nurses joined together for an Informational Picket. Nurses from both Los Gatos and Mountain View Campuses were unified in support of one another. We, the nurses, feel ECH has not been forthcoming with the public related to their proposals to us. Decreasing a nurses pay, decreasing differentials and changing insurance premiums is just short of a kick in the face. This just shows how much you value your workforce and how much of an investment you see in your employees.

Soaring revenue, the purchase of multiple outpatient clinics, the construction of brand new buildings at Mountain View and the acquisition of a $13 million dollar parking structure at Los Gatos just goes to show the public how ECH plans to imperialize the healthcare market.

Let's not forget to highlight the $400,000 salary of CNO Cheryl Reinking PLUS her $80,000 bonus last year. ECH, your nurses clearly see your commitment lies elsewhere. The very backbone of your health system is crumbling. Yet, you forge ahead with acquisitions and rebranding.

“The fate of the wounded lies in the hands of the ones who apply the first bandage." ECH, who do you think applies your bandages? We, the nurses, WILL stand together and remain unified. We will not stand for takeaways and maltreatment any longer. Our voice remains strong and will be heard!

#somethingwronginthere #somecutsneverheal #nursesareaninvestment #norespectforlongevity
#magnetormarketing #notakeaways


21 people like this
Posted by Life saving RN
a resident of another community
on Jun 12, 2019 at 8:21 pm

I wonder how the hospital can have such staggering profits (for a non-profit I might add), and yet feel it appropriate to treat their nurses this way. The nurses are only asking for no benefits to be taken away from them and for cost of living raises for the continuing high living costs associated with Silicon Valley. The nurses are always on the front lines with the patients and are the backbone of any facility. While the hospital is busy trying to take away from their nurses, tonight they are having a board meeting to vote on raises for the executive team. Just like when they wrote an article in August 2018 regarding CEO Dan Brown’s salary increase to $890,000 with the possibility of up to a 45% bonus. Really 45%?!?!?!? Here is the excerpt:

“The board voted to amend the contract of CEO Dan Woods, who was hired last year, increasing his "base" salary from $850,000 to $890,000 for the 2018-19 year, following a study that concluded the board ought to pay its top executive between $876,000 to $1.3 million in order to provide a competitive compensation package.

Along with his salary, Woods is eligible for a sizable bonus through what the hospital calls the "executive performance incentive plan," which allows the board to grant a bonus to the CEO equal to as much as 45 percent of his base salary. These bonuses are typically granted in the fall, with a decision on bonus pay for the 2017-18 year slated for the board's Oct. 10 meeting.”

Shame on you El Camino Hospital.


15 people like this
Posted by Certified RN
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2019 at 10:57 pm

As an RN who has worked at El Camino for 6 years, I've now been through the contract negotiations twice. I'm astounded that each time we have to fight to MAINTAIN our pay and benefits, and a standard cost of living raise. It's not as if we are demanding huge raises, or even more benefits. We simply want to take home the same paycheck tomorrow that we did last week. Every three years we have to wonder, what will they want to take away from us next? They're certainly not asking less of us in our duties!

El Camino just submitted paperwork for it's 4th Magnet Designation. How do you think they're able achieve Magnet Designation? What is Magnet designation? The hospital certainly is proud of this achievement.

Magnet status is an award given by the American Nurses' Credentialing Center (ANCC), an affiliate of the American Nurses Association, to hospitals that satisfy a set of criteria designed to measure the strength and quality of their nursing.

This designation can't be achieved or maintained without us, highly skilled, qualified, respected, hard working, dedicated NURSES.

We are asking for NO TAKEAWAYS and the respect that we have earned and deserve. Stop stabbing us in the back El Camino!


Like this comment
Posted by vic
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2019 at 8:29 am

We have been told how much profit the hospital brings in as well as the income of the CEO but I did not see any mention of how much the nurses salaries are? Just wondering.


5 people like this
Posted by Response to Vic
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2019 at 9:40 am

Vic,
I'm sure the hospital negotiation team will release a news article posting all of the nurses' salaries in the coming weeks just like they did 3 years ago in our previous negotiations. This may prompt some in the community to say that nurses get paid enough, but the breakdown of the salary isn't transparent. That salary list will only reflect the total compensation but doesn't reflect how those nurses made that amount of money. Many of the higher paid nurses have either worked there for 15+ years. They are also those that work in the very high risk, on call positions like the cardiac Cath lab, OR, GI lab, and now Neuro interventional Cath lab. IF these nurses were not on call during after hours, then those patients that come in with emergent conditions like a HEART ATTACK OR STROKE that require care in those areas will not be able to go until morning, which often times is life threatening. The salary list that the hospital will probably release also does NOT reflect shift differential pay for those that work night shift and weekends. Those of us that work off shifts have to sacrifice OUR HEALTH, time in the evenings/nights/weekends with our families. IT ALSO DOES NOT REFLECT ALL THE OVERTIME THE NURSES WORK IN ORDER TO MAKE UP FOR STAFF SHORTAGES. Not to mention that despite being paid well, our salaries are still LESS than that of Stanford nurses, which is NOT a MAGNET hospital. If you speak with many of the nurses, they do not live within 30 mins of the hospital if they own a home. If they rent, they can stay a little closer to the hospital but their rent I'm sure is astronomical. So yes, on paper, it does appear that nurses get paid well. BUT it's with ALOT of sacrifice that we are able to ATTAIN our annual salaries.


6 people like this
Posted by correction to response to Vic
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2019 at 10:42 am

Response to Vic, I agree with all of your points, but I need to correct you in one area. Stanford IS a Magnet Hospital. There are 3 hospitals in the bay area that have Magnet Recognition they are, El Camino Hospital, Stanford Hospital and Washington Hospital.
Vic, The shift I'm seeing in a "not for profit" hospital, is that they are becoming more "corporation based". Instead of giving those profits to share holders, they are giving it to the CEO and executives. The executive compensation committee has just submitted to the Board of Directors the FY20 proposals for base salaries anywhere from 3% to9%. That's not to mention their bonuses on top of that.


Like this comment
Posted by Correction to response to Vic
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 15, 2019 at 10:25 am

Oops sorry yes Stanford is magnet. I thought they didn’t re-designate last go round but they did.


10 people like this
Posted by RN
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 15, 2019 at 5:31 pm

I left ECH after a 10 year run, completely burned out and bone tired. I loved the hard working, knowledgeable Nurses I worked with and will plan to walk with them, if there is another opportunity to stand side by side during a picket. It disgusts me that once again, contract negotiations have turned sour and the Nurses are on the losing end of things. Past is prologue; high quality Nurses DESERVE a high quality contract!


7 people like this
Posted by in recognition of hard work
a resident of another community
on Jun 19, 2019 at 10:22 am

Why is a business which is doing an excellent job at taking care of its financial health and future growth so badly underestimating how it should commit to its workers?
Make your money, ECH, but don't tell the workers who make your profits and growth possible that they cannot maintain the wages and benefits they have already fought for. Make your money, ECH, but don't abandon the best principles and ethics you espouse. Prove that you are an employer to envy by appropriately negotiating with your nurses, and agreeing that they ought to be compensated well for their skillful work and their commitment to the best patient care possible. Value the workers by your actions, and value them as much as you value and protect that 1 billion dollar investment portfolio.
Value your workers as much as you value your profits, and prove it.


Like this comment
Posted by ECH Nurse
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2019 at 2:30 am

ECH Nurse is a registered user.

El Camino Hospital is being unbelievably short-sighted and callous, disrespecting their nurses to save a few pennies. I've been working here 6 years and have the most amazing colleagues. But management makes it very clear that they do not care about the nurses. Some of the takeaways that ECH proposed do not even benefit the hospital financially, they are just there as a slap in the face to the nurses who give their hearts and souls to this hospital and to the patients they serve. Our trust in management has been shattered.

The board of El Camino, including Cheryl Reinking (herself a nurse) and Dan Woods, should be ashamed, taking the tax dollars of the hard-working people of Mountain View to line their own pockets while failing to treat the nurses of the hospital with an ounce of respect. This will come back to bite them.


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