Barton nurses unhappy with contract negotiations, will strike Friday |

Barton nurses unhappy with contract negotiations, will strike Friday

Nurses at Barton Health held their first strike in May of this year.
Ryan Hoffman / Tahoe Daily Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Citing high healthcare prices and high deductibles, the California Nurses Association has informed Barton Health that its nurses will strike next week.

The one-day strike will take place Friday, Sept. 20. This will be the second one-day strike, the first was in late May, by the nurses who are trying to break a deadlock in contract negotiations.

“We’ve seen Barton’s true colors,” said Shawn Bartlett, labor representative for the California Nurses Association. “They put their own nurses into collections and charge exorbitant prices for healthcare.”

Bartlett said that about 30% of nurses at Barton are in collections or have hospital debt.

Barton said it was disappointed with nurses’ intent to strike.

Director of Public Relations Mindi Befu said the sides have met eight times since the previous strike and have reached 29 tentative agreements and that more negotiations were scheduled for Sept. 24-25.

“On Aug. 27, Barton presented a fair and thoughtful counter proposal to the union’s wage proposal, which would result in an average 10% wage increase for bargaining unit nurses over three years,” Befu said in an emailed statement to the Tribune. “We were anticipating continued discussions at the negotiating sessions scheduled at the end of the month. Barton will continue to provide exceptional patient care during the strike. We’ve hired qualified replacement nurses who are specially trained for this type of work and will work alongside Barton staff and physicians.”

Befu said the staffing agency Barton works with requires a five-day minimum for replacement nurses and that is standard.

The striking nurses won’t be allowed back to work until Sept. 25.

“That’s an issue we have to deal with and we expected it after last time,” said Starlette Robinson, a South Lake Tahoe resident who has been a Barton nurse for three years and had twins at the hospital. “We’re very disappointed. We feel retaliated against.”

Robinson said she paid well over $5,000 to have her children at Barton.

“We have a $5,000 deductible and I paid 10% of every bill after that,” she said. “Healthcare is the biggest issue, it’s just too expensive. I’m all for this strike. I’m tired of this contract taking so long.”

Barton Health disagreed with the union’s characterization of the health plans and thinks it’s not the reason the union chose to strike.

“As of Thursday, CNA has arranged to have nurses from at least 12 hospitals in three states walk out on Sept. 20,” Befu wrote. “With Barton nurses joining this larger effort, we are unable to continue scheduled discussion on Sept. 24-25 about wages and other important issues specific to our nurses.”

Befu said Barton will offer full services during the strike and honor “our commitment to our patients,” and scheduled procedures at Lake Tahoe Surgery Center will be relocated.

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