By Jim Steinberg, The Sun
Posted: 05/01/14, 6:50 PM PDT |

COLTON >> More than 400 registered nurses picketed Thursday in front of Arrowhead Regional Medical Center.

“The primary issues are patient care and nursing safety,” said Jed Smith, a labor representative with the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United.

But San Bernardino County spokesman David Wert said the only proposals the county has received from the nurses involved pay raises by as much as 36 percent over three years for some categories of nurses.

The nurses had at least two bullhorns and chanted “mighty, mighty county nurses” while trying to hold onto signs saying “we walk the line for patient safety” in the powerful winds.

The informational picketing was done ahead of a June 1 contract expiration date, Smith said, because negotiations with the hospital’s administration was not progressing.

If the contract is allowed to expire in June, nurses will have the ability to strike, although a strike vote has not been called, he said.

In interviews, several ARMC nurses spoke about not being able to take breaks or eat lunch as units they worked for dispatched fellow nurses to address patients with life threatening emergencies,

Wert said nurse-patient ratios are regulated by the state and ARMC has never been cited for violating those requirements.

Low pay, along with working conditions are the reason for the high turnover, several picketing nurses said.

Wert said that county statistics show the average tenure of an ARMC registered nurse is nine years.

“That doesn’t sound like high turnover to me,” Wert said.

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