Nurses protest cuts in Downtown Fresno

FRESNO, Calif.

Nurses are frustrated because the county has stopped talking. The supervisors were set to impose their last, best and final offer Tuesday.

Nurses say in addition to a nine percent pay cut, they would face reductions in other compensation that amount to a 25 percent reduction. They are concerned for themselves and their patients.

Nurses were joined by other county workers in marching outside the hall of records. Inside, they asked the board to continue negotiating.

Lisa Harlow, California Nurses Association said, "We are asking you here today to treat your caregivers with respect."

These public health nurses care for the most needy in the community, including children under care of child protective services, in foster homes, and juvenile hall, they also serve adults in the county jail, and others with no other access to health care.

Kathleen Kelley, Public Health Nurse said, "We're getting the worst of the worst and we have the fewest nurses we've ever had."

Pay cuts over the past few years have reduced the number of public health nurses from 200 five years ago, to just 74 today.

Kelley said, "On a personal note, I haven't had a raise in four years and in fact we had two percent cuts those entire four years and then they are voting on a nine percent cut for us today."

The nurses already make less than other registered nurses, but were not asking for a pay increase.

Nancy La Place, Public Health Nurse said, "We figured we'd take some cuts but nine percent is double what they've taken from other unions. We don't understand the inequity. "It's hurtful. It's hurtful."

The board of supervisors was expected to issue it's last best and final offer to the nurses with no further negotiation. But after meeting behind closed doors in executive session they voted to put off doing anything for another week.

Nurses say they will be back, hoping the board will compromise.

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