Nurses flex their political muscle in Sacramento and across California

An article from the Sacramento Bee:

Rose Ann DeMoro is always ready for another fight.

And why not? During the past decade, the leader of the California Nurses Association has won so many of her battles.

Largely because of CNA efforts, California is poised to become the first state where registered nurses make an average salary above $100,000.

The union helped defeat gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman in 2010 and has become a political force, throwing financial support behind candidates for offices ranging from Santa Rosa City Council to state attorney general.

And more recently, nurses flexed their muscles with a series of one-day walkouts in support of other hospital employees who are in tough contract negotiations.

"This is a significant career with responsibility for life and death," DeMoro said. Hospitals, she said, "are looking to make more money off the backs of nurses. That's not going to happen."

The health care industry bristles at CNA tactics, including last Tuesday's one-day nurse walkout at Kaiser Permanente hospitals alongside striking workers from the smaller National Union of Healthcare Workers. Hospital officials say the solidarity strikes put patients at risk.

"We don't see how taking 23,000 nurses out of hospitals and having them walk the picket line advances quality patient care," Jan Emerson-Shea, a vice president at the Sacramento-based California Hospital Association, said before a prior walkout in September.

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