St. Francis RNs Narrowly Avoid Strike in Prolonged Fight for a New Contract – Sept/Oct’11 Voice

October 2011

Despite the tremendous presence of St. Francis RNs day and night at bargaining, St. Francis Medical Center management refused to move their position on two key issues—safe staffing and a secure pension—during extended bargaining from May through August 2011.  On August 30, by an overwhelming 98% margin, the St. Francis Registered Nurses Association voted to strike.  When confronted with a strike, hospital management came back to the table ready to collaborate.  Just a few days before the strike was set to begin, the contract was ratified by a large margin.

“It helps sitting at the table to look behind and see [the members].  You are the power,” said Sandi Marques, RN, BSN, MBA, President of the St. Francis Registered Nurses Association.  A hard fought wage takeaway was defeated through unprecedented member support in July, when over 400 members came to bargaining over a three day period.  In the end, it was the power of the members that  spurred SFMC to ask to meet with bargaining team members after the strike vote to hammer out a deal to head off the strike.

It was this Marques quote about the vote that moved so many as news of the strike hit the streets: “We ask that they provide an environment for safe, patient-centered care.  We’ve come to the table ready to collaborate, and management has not. I don’t take this strike lightly. I spent part of my childhood in Lynwood and have worked at this hospital for 26 years.  This is my community.”

Immeasurable thanks to the 700 RNs at St. Francis who gave their all during these difficult negotiations. It was your strength that brought this victory.