Facebook Twitter

JUDGE ORDERS NURSES BACK TO WORK, BUT OTHER GROUPS TAKE UP STRIKE

SHARE JUDGE ORDERS NURSES BACK TO WORK, BUT OTHER GROUPS TAKE UP STRIKE

Striking nurses agreed to obey a judge's order and return to work overnight at county-run hospitals and clinics, but hundreds of bakers and maintenance workers walked out to keep up the pressure.

About 500 nurses held an angry, hourlong debate Wednesday before agreeing to end the strike, which began Monday night, said union spokesman Dan Savage."The choice was simple - either defy the restraining order and be held in contempt of court, or you go back to work," he said.

The nurses - who work in six hospitals and 47 clinics - were to start returning with the Wednesday night shift, he said. Nursing supervisors at county hospitals Thursday refused to say how many had arrived overnight.

Los Angeles County officials also agreed to resume contract talks Thursday with the 4,300 nurses, whose union called the strike over wages and benefits.

County officials responded to the walkout by closing emergency rooms to ambulances and discharging patients or transferring them to private hospitals. Some people with non-critical ailments were also turned away.

Meanwhile, 300 public works employees represented by the same union, and 16 of the 17 bakers for the county jail system, went on strike Wednesday.

Savage said the action was part of a "rolling thunder" bargaining strategy that calls for job actions by other employees in the days ahead to bring pressure on the county to negotiate new contracts.

Local 660 of the Service Employees International Union represents 41,000 of about 80,000 county employees under 21 contracts.

The nurses were ordered back to work Tuesday by Superior Court Judge William Huss, who said their strike imperiled public safety.

The nurses, who earn $37,000 to $38,000 a year, want a 10 percent raise this year and 7 percent next year. The county has proposed 5.5 percent this year and offered to negotiate another raise next year.