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Nurses Plan Rallies in San Diego, Around CA, in Lieu of Strike

Nurses in San Diego and throughout California are planning rallies for today to protest hospital staffing problems and patient safety after a judge blocked a planned one-day strike. A San Francisco Superior Court judge issued a temporary restraining order on Tuesday barring nurses at University of California hospitals from walking-out. The judge said that a strike would jeopardize public safety and that it may be illegal.

The California Public Employment Relations Board sought an injunction against the nurses to prevent the strike. They argued that it was too soon in the current contract negotiation process for the nurses to take the extreme measure of striking. The California Nurses Association, the union representing the nurses, countered that a strike would not be illegal because the dispute involves aspects of the current 3-year contract.

The nurses also argue that the University hospitals have wasted money trying to stop the nurses' protests by hiring attorneys and flying in and training replacement nurses in case of a strike, rather than simply hiring more permanent nurses.

The nurses say that UC hospitals and hospitals around California are in violation of California minimum staffing laws. They say that the hospitals are short-staffed and nurses frequently have to choose between going on breaks or caring for their patients. Nurses are also forced to take on too many patients or cover for other nurses.

The UC hospitals dispute the nurses' claims and insist they are in compliance with all staffing laws and that patient safety is a top priority.

The California Nursing Association is also a part of National Nurses United, a national mega-union. The California nurses are also pushing for nationwide adaptation of minimum staffing laws.

Nurses will rally at the UC San Diego Medical Center-Hillcrest hospital at 7:30 a.m. today and noon.

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