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Tucson nurses to hold 1-day strike at St. Joseph's, St. Mary's Hospitals

First nurses strike in Arizona history, union says
Posted: 10:12 AM, Sep 19, 2019
Updated: 2019-09-20 16:55:53-04
St. Joseph St. Mary Hospitals
St. Joseph St. Mary Hospitals
St. Joseph St. Mary Hospitals
St. Joseph St. Mary Hospitals

TUCSON, Ariz. — Nurses at St. Joseph's and St. Mary's Hospitals in Tucson will hold a one-day strike Friday -- the first nurse strike in Arizona's history.

According to a news release from the National Nurses United -- the California-based union that represents the nurses at the Tenet-affiliated hospitals -- the Sept. 20 strike will involve nearly 900 nurses at both hospitals.

The union says the strike is meant to urge management to "invest in nursing staff," hoping to improve recruitment and retention of other nurses.

Catherine Byars has been a nurse for the last 18 years, and has worked for St. Mary's hospital for the last 13 years. She told KGUN, tomorrow is a very important day for her, and for the future of her patients.

"Research shows there is a strong, clear link between good patient outcomes and good staffing ratios. We are doing this for our patients. We gave the hospital and our management team the required legal 10 day notice so that they can prepare and make sure the patients are cared for,” added Byars.

Nurses at two Tenet-affiliated hospitals in Florida and eight in California will participate in the strike as well, totaling 5,400 nurses in all.

The strike is set to begin at 7 a.m. Friday and will last until 7 a.m. the following day.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Carondelet Health Network -- which is owned by Tenet Healthcare -- said they're negotiating a new contract with the nurses and are developing a "respectful, professional and productive relationship," with the local union.

"Patients and their loved ones can be assured that all our patients will continue to be cared for by qualified, registered nurses and other caregivers during any strike action," the statement said.

Byars hopes this strike will bring a compromise that gets more nurses on staff and increases patient safety. She also has one message for the Tenant Healthcare.

"You have to listen to understand and not listen to respond. And so, I am hoping that they are now going to start listening to understand.”