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5,000 nurses will join the picket line over staffing, pay, benefits and quality of life.

The Stanford Hospital and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital scheduled a formal bargaining session on Tuesday with its nurses, who are scheduled to strike Monday, the nurse’s union announced Friday evening.

The hospital is scheduled to meet with nurses over the weekend, before Monday’s strike and Tuesday’s formal session, though if they cannot reach an agreement by Sunday evening the 5,000 nurses will join the picket line at the hospital Monday.

The hospital requested a Friday evening negotiating session to present their response to CRONA’s April 12 proposal, which the union said “shows some movement” on issues like access to vacation time and student loans.

“Our goal has always been to avoid a strike and we will continue to fight for contracts that address the issues that matter to all of us,” an update on the CRONA website said. “If a strike cannot be avoided, we will continue to do everything possible to get all 5,000 CRONA Nurses back to work quickly under fair contracts that recognize our worth and value our dedication to our profession and our patients. Now is the time to stand strong and united as we push for the contracts we deserve.”

Late Friday, Stanford and Packard posted an update on their negotiation website, stating their updated proposal includes “several enhancements,” including increased wages, greater first-year retention bonuses, student loan repayment funds, increased access to PTO for new nurses, and a new retention program for nurses working in units with higher vacancy rates and hard-to-fill positions.

Stanford nurses said they were not satisfied with the hospital’s response to wages and bonuses and mental health support.

The hospital’s new proposal includes a base wage increase of 5% in the first year, followed by 4% in the second and third year — an increase from the 3% in the third year that they previously offered, plus ratification and retention bonuses.

The nurses are asking for annual wage increases of 7% for each of the next two years, and 6% in the final year of their contract. They also are pushing for $3,000 bonuses and ongoing mental health counseling, to use all allotted vacation time and have control over their weekend shifts and get extra pay for critical care nurses.

Healthcare workers across the country are speaking out about staffing, pay, benefits and quality of life concerns that have heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands of nurses across Northern California staged a one-day strike at 18 Sutter Health facilities last week, and a massive strike of 50,000 Kaiser healthcare workers was barely avoided last November.

Assembly Members Ash Kalra and Marc Berman, and State Senator Josh Becker, sent a letter to Stanford and Packard Friday evening, urging them to continue good faith negotiations without the threat of stripping nurses of health care.

“While we fully understand and appreciate the negotiation process, it seems unconscionable that Stanford and Packard would use something as essential as health care benefits as a means to threaten against their right to strike,” the letter read. “Having received generous federal funding the last two years, Stanford and Packard health care should not be playing games with nurses’ health care benefits.”