Van Nuys Behavioral Hospital Nurses Reach Labor Deal, Cancel Strike

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VAN NUYS (CNS) - Unionized nurses at Van Nuys Behavioral Hospital called off a planned strike today, with the union announcing a labor deal with hospital management.

Members of Local 121RN of the Service Employees International Union voted last week to authorize a strike, setting the stage for a potential walkout on Monday.

``Nurses at our hospital have sacrificed so much throughout the pandemic -- but we've never been recognized for that sacrifice. Now, that will change,'' Rudy Barzola, a Van Nuys Behavioral Health Hospital nurse who worked as a member of the bargaining team, said in a statement released by the union.

``With this agreement, we have assurances from management that they will work with us on issues related to pandemic safety, staffing, retention, and our working conditions. It took a picket, and the threat of a strike, to make the change we need. Finally, we're being heard.''

The local represents some 9,000 nurses at facilities throughout Southern California, including the 44 nurses employed at Van Nuys Behavioral, a union spokesman told City News Service. The hospital is a 57-bed facility.

When its members took a strike-authorization vote, the union cited patient and employee safety concerns, staffing levels and worker retention issues.

Hospital officials had no immediate comment on the deal.

Union members ratified the agreement Friday. The union's previous contract expired Dec. 31.

To be a patient at Van Nuys Behavioral, there must be a diagnosis of a psychiatric disorder such as schizophrenia, bipolar, major depression or addiction, according to the hospital's website.

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