On July 13 and 14, the California Nurses Association held a two-day strike at Keck Hospital and Norris Cancer Hospital of University of Southern California in Los Angeles. The strike was composed of hundreds of nurses picketing in the streets and up to the front entrance of Keck Hospital, along with a caravan of nurses and families driving around it honking and chanting in solidarity.
“We’ve been in contract negotiations for the past eight months, fighting for fair wages, but mainly patient safety,” said Kerri Dodgens, an ICU nurse at Keck. “The hospital has been chronically understaffed for 10 years. We rely heavily on temporary workers and overtime and full-time staff. Nurses work 18 hour shifts. And that’s unacceptable. It shouldn’t be on our shoulders to work ungodly hours to keep the hospital afloat because they choose to not hire enough nurses.”
Tamara Khoury, a registered nurse at 7 West ICU, added that the hospital is using money to pay scabs and transfer patients instead of hiring more nurses and giving them a fair contract, which is what the nurses are demanding. This comes at a time when Keck and Norris Cancer Hospital, two of the most profitable hospitals throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, made nearly $200 million while taking rescue money from the government.
According to Aram Ozen, a registered nurse at Keck, having safe staff-to-patient ratios and enforcing safe hospital practices is especially necessary since Keck is a specialized surgical hospital. Keck only receives patients who are referred to it, meaning its staff handles the most complex cases. But by not hiring more staff and giving them fair contracts, it’s putting the health of patients at risk just to make more profit.
No healthcare worker should be exploited by their employer for 18 hour shifts, nor should patients — the most vulnerable in our society, especially during a pandemic — be exposed to such dangerous conditions when seeking medical care. The Party for Socialism and Liberation attended the CNA strikes and is in full solidarity with healthcare workers struggling for fair contracts and safe patient care. No more executive greed! Safe staffing over profits NOW!