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Kaiser Nurses Strike Over Cuts To Health Care, Retirement Benefits

EAST HOLLYWOOD (CBS) — Thousands of Kaiser Permanente nurses from 80 Southland hospitals went on a one-day strike Tuesday morning to protest of major cuts to healthcare coverage and retirement benefits.

The largest strike, called by the California Nurses Association which also included other employees and social workers, began at 6 a.m. at the Kaiser Sunset Hospital near Sunset Boulevard and Vermont Avenue. Nurses also picketed Kaiser hospitals in Woodland Hills and Downey.

The union says hospital costs have not risen, but that Kaiser wants to increase out-of-pocket costs to nurses and eliminate retirement benefits.

"We are here to advocate for our patients' safety because they deserve the best quality care. We want safe staffing rations implemented into the contract as well as no take-ways from our current benefits," said Sandra Hanke, a pediatric nurse.

The union says the cuts come at a time when executives are getting excessive compensation packages.

Kaiser denies the California Nurses Associations claims.

"Our goal is to be able to retain the high quality staff we've and continue to attract staff so we must be competitive. We know our compensation plans and benefits today are competitive. We believe the proposal that is on the table is also one that is competitive in today's marketplace," said Mark Costa of Kaiser Permanente LA Medical Center.

Hospital officials say that a plan has been put in place and patients will not notice a change in care or safety.

Tuesday's strike marks the fourth time Kaiser employees have protested since started they started bargaining in 2010.

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