Barton Health and nurses to resume bargaining after strike called off | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Barton Health and nurses to resume bargaining after strike called off

Barton Health nurses on Wednesday, Jan. 23, voted to grant their bargaining team the ability to call for a strike.
Ryan Hoffman / Tahoe Daily Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — There will be no strike by nurses at Barton Health Friday.

Both sides involved in labor negotiations have decided to walk back from a seeming escalation in the bargaining process.

Nurses, who voted in late 2017 to join the California Nurses Association union, alerted Barton earlier this month that they planned to strike on Friday, Feb. 15.

Barton, in response, moved to hire licensed nurses to temporarily replace those on strike and ensure services would not be disrupted.

While the Barton nurses planned to strike for one day, the temporary nurses would have been on the job for five days, which Barton said is the minimum required by the agency supplying the temporary labor.

Consequently, striking nurses would have been unable to return to work until after the five-day work requirement was fulfilled — a reality Barton said CNA was aware of.

Nurses fired back saying Barton’s statement about the minimum work requirement was false, and that the health system was causing unnecessary hardship for nurses as punishment.

On Thursday morning, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, an independent agency that provides mediation and conflict resolution services, issued a statement on behalf of both parties.

“With the assistance of FMCS, Barton Health and CNA collectively have agreed to work with FMCS in mediated labor negotiations towards a new collective bargaining agreement. Only official representatives of CNA are authorized to speak on behalf of CNA with regard to any matters related to the parties’ negotiations. Similarly, only official representatives of Barton Health are authorized to speak on behalf of Barton Health with regard to any matters related to the parties’ negotiations.“

The statement did not include information regarding the status or substance of the negotiations, as the agency says is standard practice.

Barton first disclosed information about the development Tuesday. In a statement, Barton director of public relations Mindi Befu said the nurses had rescinded their strike notice and, in response, Barton would be canceling the use of replacement nurses.

“Accordingly, Barton RNs will work their normal schedules, and Barton Health will be fully operational,” Befu said.

Barton’s statement did not provide additional information on the development.

California Nurses Association labor representative Shawn Bartlett told the Tribune Wednesday he could not comment on the negotiations at this time. Several nurses on the bargaining team also either declined to comment or did not respond to an inquiry from the Tribune on Tuesday.

The two parties intend to continue bargaining Feb. 19, according to Barton.

“Barton Health looks forward to continuing discussions and working collaboratively toward a fair and equitable contract for all,” Befu said.

Nurses overwhelmingly voted to unionize in November 2017. Negotiations started in March 2018.

In January, Barton nurses voted overwhelmingly to authorize their bargaining team to call for a strike, should the need arise.

On Feb. 4, the nurses gave notice to Barton, as is required, that they intended to strike on Feb. 15. They cited dissatisfaction with the bargaining process as the reason for the strike.

Barton responded by saying it felt a strike was premature.