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Nurses at Rady Children's Hospital vote to go on strike

Rady Children's Hospital is seen on Oct. 31, 2023. San Diego, Calif.
Rady Children's Hospital is seen on Oct. 31, 2023. San Diego, Calif.

Nurses at Rady Children's Hospital have voted to authorize a strike and on Wednesday their union is planning when to start to picket and walk out.

The United Nurses of Children's Hospital, the union that represents more than 1,500 nurses at the hospital, said after months of negotiations and failed attempts to secure a fair contract, the vote Tuesday was overwhelmingly in favor of going on strike.

"Rady Children's Hospital has forced our hand," said Katie Langenstrass, Executive Director of UNOCH Teamsters Local 1699. "Our members are passionate about their work and their patients. However, the hospital's persistent undervaluation of their dedication and skill has left us no choice. Despite the hospital's total operating revenue increasing to $1.6 billion in 2023, they continue to refuse to compensate our members fairly. All while its nurses are working multiple jobs to make ends meet. It's just not right."


Lack of fair wages and adequate benefits led to a breakdown of negotiations on Monday, the union said. It led to the nurses having no choice but to go on strike and creating conditions at the hospital that will lead to longer wait times, disrupted patient care and rescheduling of appointments and procedures.

A strike start date has not been announced.

"I love my job and the children I care for every day," said Reid Corley, a registered nurse at Rady Children*s Hospital. "All we're asking for is fair wages to provide for our families. The cost of living in San Diego is astronomical, and we simply cannot keep up with our current wages. It's heartbreaking to think about the impact on our patients, but we have been left with no other option."

The union says hospital staff report low wages and rising health care costs are creating consistent staffing issues that have existed for years. The employee's share of medical premiums has increased by nearly 34% over the past five years.

"We have been behind on wages for years, and it's becoming impossible to retain talented nurses," said Marie Wahl, a registered nurse at Rady Children's Hospital. "Many of our colleagues leave after just one to two years for better-paying positions at other hospitals. This constant turnover disrupts patient care and places an unfair burden on those of us who are left. This strike is about more than just wages, it's about patient care."