A labor dispute between Camino Healthcare and the registered nurses at El Camino Hospital resulted in nurses walking the sidewalks with an informational picket of management beginning 8 a.m. Monday.
A labor agreement between Camino Healthcare and the Professional Resources for Nurses (PRN) expired May 22, and in recent negotiations Camino Healthcare is demanding the union waive its right to bargain collectively and instead bargain individually.
According to Patricia Briggs, chief negotiator with PRN, wages and benefits are not the issue in negotiations since RNs at Camino Healthcare currently earn approximately $55,000 per year.
"PRN wants the hospital to survive. We come to the bargaining table with one goal, that of reaching a labor agreement which positions the nurses and Camino to survive the changes in the health care industry," Briggs said. "So far, Camino has rejected the union's attempt to work together with the administration and has taken the position that the only solution to their management problems is to limit the effectiveness of the union to represent the nurses at Camino Healthcare."
Jennifer George, spokeswoman for Camino Healthcare, said the union has not given legal notice to strike. George said the nurses must give the hospital a 10-day warning.
In other hospital developments, the El Camino Hospital District acted Saturday to remove any perceived conflict interest charges by Camino Healthcare and the Camino Medical Group (CMG).
District chairman Paul Hoar invoked a provision known as the "Rule of Necessity." The idea behind the rule is that a conflict of interest prohibition should not be applied so stringently as to paralyze the action of the district. The District board's decision to file suit has been challenged by Camino Healthcare and CMG, which claim that four members allegedly had financial interests in the outcome of the litigation and should be precluded from District board decisions.
"By raising these allegations of conflict, I believe CMG's true purpose is to attempt to paralyze the District Board into inaction," Hoar said.