Riverside County officials have gone to court in an effort to stop a one-day strike by health care professionals.


Published: 30 January 2012 11:33 AM

A judge Monday barred 248 health-care workers from joining a one-day strike by members of Riverside County’s second-largest union.

After a daylong hearing, Judge John Vineyard issued a temporary restraining order against all but 17 members of a group of 265 workers whose jobs the county argued were vital. Vineyard ordered the majority not to take part in the one-day walkout by members of Service Employees International Union Local 721.

The SEIU local represents 5,800 county workers. It is not certain how many will strike today, but union officials have said they expect thousands to take part in the protests in front of the County Administrative Center on Lemon Street in Riverside.

Those ordered to stay on the job today include nurses in Riverside County Regional Medical Center’s medical and surgical units as well as its emergency department, critical and progressive care units, pediatric units and psychiatric unit, as well as nurses working at jail facilities.

“A strike is not worth somebody becoming dead or somebody being seriously injured,” Riverside County Counsel Pamela Walls argued during the all-day hearing.

County officials on Jan. 24 appealed to the California Public Employment Relations Board to take action against the union regarding the health-care workers, and the state agency filed its lawsuit on Friday.

The county sought to keep the nurses — many of whom will get an 8 percent raise starting next month — on the job.

Vineyard said 17 members of the challenged group — including clinical lab scientists and operating room scrub techs — could join the strike.

An attorney for the union said the county had provided Vineyard with skimpy evidence to back its arguments that the 265 contested health workers had to stay on the job, especially after 11 days’ warning of the strike.

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