Nurses at Barton Hospital in South Lake Tahoe are planning a one-day strike on February 15th. Now, they say the hospital is taking what they claim are unnecessary actions against them because of it. 

Nurses at the South Lake Tahoe hospital voted to unionize in November of 2017. Negotiations between them and Barton Health began in March of last year, but the nurses say no progress has been made. 

The nurses say they want an agreement reached as soon as possible to remedy what they call unfair workplace conditions. Beth Dameral, a Registered Nurse explains one concern, "Nurses at Barton over quite a number of years have been working in an environment of fear, really, and intimidation and feeling like we haven't been able to speak up for our patients."

They are planning a one-day strike to address this and other concerns. However, the nurses say Barton Hospital has notified them that replacement nurses will be hired for a total of five days. This means the striking nurses will be out of work for an extra four days, next week.

Barton Health's Public Relations Director, Mindi Befu says, "When hospitals and healthcare providers receive a strike notice from CNA – which has occurred numerous times over the years – the union knows that healthcare providers such as Barton Health are required to hire qualified replacement nurses to replace striking nurses. Barton's contract with the staffing agency requires a 5 day minimum for the replacement nurses, which is standard. As a result, nurses who choose to strike on February 15, 2019 will return to work on February 20, 2019, or soon thereafter based on the schedule."

However, the striking nurses dispute that, instead calling it a 'punitive measure.' Dameral says, "Nurses are paid hourly, so when we're not at work we do not receive any compensation. So, it's really a hardship for the nurses and their families."

In a statement to 2 News today, Barton Health said: 

Barton Health Statement for KTVN

Notice of Intent to Strike February 15, 2019

Mindi Befu, Director of Public Relations

We are disappointed that the California nurses’ union has served Barton Health with a notice of their intent to strike on February 15, 2019. We are in active negotiations with the union and have been meeting regularly since March of 2018. We’ve made progress with 26 tentative agreements and have yet to discuss wages and benefits. We’re hopeful negotiations can continue as nobody wins in a strike.

Barton will continue to provide exceptional patient care during the strike. We’ve hired qualified replacement nurses who are specially trained for this type of work and will work alongside Barton staff and physicians. Barton will offer full services during the strike. At the end of the day we’re a community hospital and our obligation is to the Lake Tahoe community.

Facts about union negotiations can be found at  www.bartonhealth.org/union-facts.