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Service Continues Despite Notice of Nurse Strike

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Antelope Valley Medical Center Chief Executive Officer John Rossfeld said today that the hospital is prepared to "fulfill our mission of serving the community" despite the strike notice it received today from the California Nurses Association (CNA). According to the notice, the CNA intends to commence a strike against the hospital starting on Sept. 28 as a result of the union being unwilling to reach agreement on a new contract despite many months of negotiations.

"Just as we were recently able to arrive at a fair and equitable new contract with the Service Employees International Union, we were hoping to achieve the same with the CNA," said Rossfeld. "Unfortunately, this was not to be as their representatives walked out of our last bargaining session despite our fair settlement offer including numerous compromises."

Rossfeld said that during this strike AVMC will do everything in its power to continue operations and maintain "our full service level by all lawful means at our disposal including, where permitted, the temporary replacement of employees out on strike." He says that such arrangements are being finalized at this time.

The CNA strike comes three months after nurses authorized their union leaders to call a strike if necessary. Union representatives walked out of the last negotiation session without responding to eight articles presented by the hospital bargaining team, including key compromises on wages and benefits. These included an increase in its last wage proposal by more than 50 percent.

According to Rossfeld, CNA will probably establish picket lines during the strike. While additional security guards will be employed to assist patients, visitors and employees, Rossfeld hopes there will be no problems. "I respect the nurses’ legal right to picket and hope that they, in turn, respect the rights of others to go about their business. This includes fellow nurses who have a right to work."

Antelope Valley Medical Center has never had a strike in its 61-year history. The California Nurses Association began representing AVMC nurses in 2003. The last time employees at any local hospital went on strike in the Antelope Valley was in October 2000, when unionized employees of the now-shuttered High Desert Hospital joined other Los Angeles County workers in walking out for two days.

"We sincerely hope that this strike will be short-lived," said Rossfeld. "When all is said and done, we part of the same family and share the same focus on improving the health of our community by delivering the best care possible."