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Nurses strike at 5 Sutter hospitals in California, claim pay, safety issues

Hospitals received recent high marks for safety.

Image from <em>California Nurses Association</em>.Image from California Nurses Association.

A one-day strike for nurses at five hospital's run by California's Sutter Health kicked off on Thursday, as dozens of nurses picketed outside the the Roseville Medical Center, Mills-Peninsula Health Services, Auburn Faith, Sutter Tracy and the Santa Rosa Regional Hospital.

See images from the strike below

Picketers, led by the the California Nurses Association, are protesting the hospital's compensation for nursing staff as well as safety issues at the facilities that they say endanger patients, despite recent high marks for safety among those hospitals. Nurses are also expected to picket at the Los Angeles Medical Center, a Kaiser hospital, on Friday.

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"Across the country, nurses are unified in insisting that hospitals improve RN staffing which far too often is compromising patient safety and other patient protections," said National Nurses United Co-President Karen Higgins said in a statement.

[Also: Nurses in California, Chicago set to strike]

Sutter has said it pays nurses fairly, with average pay being $140,000 a year. It also took at aim at the union, which it says has organized 150 strikes in the past five years.

“This labor union follows a PR playbook and they pick themes they believe will resonate with the public—even if the claims are false,” said Sutter Health spokesperson Bill Gleeson in a statement. “The fact is, Sutter Health hospitals meet or exceed the state’s safe staffing ratios and routinely rank in the top quartile for quality.”

The strike came one day after The Leapfrog Group released its influential hospital rankings for patient safety, and while 40 percent of California hospitals earned C or below, the Sutter facilities facing nurse stikes all earned either an 'A' or a 'B.'

[Also: See which hospitals got an 'A' from Leapfrog]

In fact, Sutter Tracy earned 'Straight As' for years of consistant top marks while Roseville eanrned an 'A' and Mills-Peninsula, Santa Rosa, Auburn Faith all earned 'B' grades.

Here are some photos from Thursday's strike that have been posted to social media.

Twitter: @HenryPowderly