If estimates are accurate, the 23,000 nurses who went on strike Thursday comprise the largest nursing strike in U.S. history, according to the California Nurses Association.
Their cry of "no take-aways" was heard at 34 hospitals across Northern Californa.
At Castro Valley's , nurses hit the picket line at 7 a.m. By noon, 150 to 200 nurses had amassed, by union estimates.
The strike comes on heels of layoff warning notices sent to staff at all levels, prompted by lower patient numbers.
In addition, the hospital is expected to eliminate more jobs when the hospital transitions to a new facility scheduled to be completed in 2013.
Speakers include State Assembly reps
Nurses from San Leandro Hospital were bussed over the hill for a noon rally that featured CNA officials, as well as State Assembly member Bob Wieckowski and representatives from State Senator Ellen Corbett's office and State Assemblymember Mary Hayashi's office. The messages from all of the elected officials was similar.
"We in Sacramento will stand with you," Wieckowski told told the crowd of nurses huddled around a small podium on Lake Chabot Road.
Wieckowski also pledged not to "forget hard-working men and women who make so many sacrifices."
Michelle Thomas, Sen. Corbett's field representative, read a prepared statement that expressed concern for cuts in rehabilitation, skilled nursing and psychological services at Eden.
Crowd criticizes hospital's "greedy side"
As the speeches wrapped up, the crowd of nurses and supporters was lead by nurse Joseph Camphor in a chant of, "Hey, Sutter, you can't hide! We can see your greedy side!"
Eden Intensive Care Unit charge nurse Robert Auen said, "What we're really fighting is corporate greed."
He said reducing support staff at the hospital creates dangerous conditions for patients, while hospital officials counter that the facility is above the government's legal minimum for staffing levels.
During Auen's time to speak at the podium, he cited Castro Valley Patch's report that Sutter officials said 41 percent of the nurses had crossed picket lines and gone to work as usual. He claimed the figure is inaccurate.
Layoffs expected in October
October layoffs at Eden Medical Center are expected to affect staff at all levels, including those represented by several different unions.
When asked who the October layoffs will affect, Sutter communications manager Cindy Dove said, "It is across the board, top to bottom, affecting every department."
"The impetus for this is the lower census that we’ve been dealing with," she said. Lower numbers of patients with health insurance have led to lower numbers of people seeking medical treatment, she said.
Dove said the layoffs would go by seniority and that it remains unknown how many there will be.
Transition to new facility means more cuts
It also remains unknown how many jobs will be lost in the transition to the new Eden Medical Center facility slated to open in 2013. Cuts are said to be coming in several departments in that transition, with some being eliminated altogether, including the psychiatric unit.
The nursery will be downgraded from Level 2 to Level 1, resulting in more babies having to be seen elsewhere.
Dove said one new service would be added: urgent care.