The nurses at Sutter Tracy Community Hospital engaged in a one-day strike Aug. 14 in protest to Sutter delaying a fair and just first contract. Though we filed for a 24-hour strike, it was Sutter’s decision to punitively lock out their nurses for four additional days. CEO Dave Thompson contracted with out-of-state agencies to provide exorbitant travel expenses and pay for an ample amount of replacement nurses.
We see our collaborative workforce as family. We are disappointed in STCH’s unprofessional response to the 82 percent of nurses who voted to support a strike. We have been voicing our unsafe staffing concerns to management for years, with many units inadequately staffed to address break or lunch relief, while our ER constantly uses traveler nurses to fill vacancies. Yet, only during a strike will Sutter address understaffing.
Similarly, we are the lowest-paid Sutter nurses paying the highest health care premium costs and have endured extensive monetary and benefit cuts in lieu of Sutter Health’s enormous profits. Still, Sutter recklessly spurges on expensive replacement nurses during a strike and lockout instead of addressing our chronic inability to recruit and retain area nurses. Our capped wages stay stagnant, yet our CEO’s annual salary is over $800,000, a 25 percent increase in two years.
Yes, Sutter has endless resources to fight their nurses and obstruct our attempts to improve patient care, but we have our collective action and that is our voice. We want a contract to ensure that nurses are involved in the care they deliver at the bedside. We are asking for respect at work, just as we are committed to advocating for our patients and our Tracy community.
Dotty Nygard, RN BSN, Tracy
City should seek fair pool buyout deal
Last week, there was an article in the Press wherein the Tracy Unified School District plans to discuss a proposal at its upcoming meeting to approach the city about purchasing its interest in the West High pool to obtain 100 percent control over that asset.
In past discussions, members of the public and City Council have expressed frustration in being able to work with the school district in obtaining reasonable access to the West High pool for the swim clubs and other members of this community.
I hope that when the school district does approach the city about acquiring its interest in the pool, the following points are part of a final deal:
• The city does not settle for anything less than its original investment in the pool, which, if memory serves me correctly, was in the neighborhood of $3 million. Perhaps something more than that would be warranted as a buyout price. In the private business sector, there is typically a premium paid by the purchasing party to acquire control in any venture, and a savvy seller will always hold out for that premium, especially where it is under no compulsion to sell.
• There should be a three-to-five-year “transition” period whereby the school district gives access to the city for use of the pool by members of the community under favorable terms.
By driving a fair but hard bargain, we can accomplish two objectives: (1) giving members of the community meaningful access to the West High pool during the transition period, and (2) funds received from the buyout could be used with other available funds to construct a pool that meets the needs of the community in a cost-effective, prudent manner so that the new pool is in place at the end of the transition period.
Steve Nicolaou, Tracy
Micke Grove fundraiser open to all
In 2013, the Micke Grove Zoological Society assumed management and financial responsibility of the county zoo’s education department. To support our department and staff, MGZS must schedule fundraisers to pay for expenses: employee salaries, children’s programs and care of our animal collection. The community is invited to the MGZS Tapas and Wine Fiesta fundraiser — “Celebrando la Naturaleza, Celebrating Nature” — scheduled on Sept. 13 from
5 to 8 p.m. to be held inside Micke Grove Zoo.
Adults only, 21 years and older, will enjoy strolling under the stars in the zoo, sampling wines from local — Ramon Rios Vineyard & Winery — and regional wineries from Calistoga, Lodi and Manteca. Restaurants and bakeries throughout the valley are contributing delicious appetizers and desserts to sample while sipping on wine and enjoying musical entertainment. Tickets may be purchased for $35 per person or $60 per couple online at www.mgzoo.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
MGZS is a nonprofit 501c(3) corporation that financially supports the county zoo and provides educational programs to children at elementary schools throughout San Joaquin County. Our staff has visited Tracy Title 1-designated elementary schools — Central and North schools — bringing our educational conservation programs and wildlife animals at no cost to the schools of Tracy Unified School District.
Linda Jimenez, Tracy, MGZS Board of Directors secretary
City, TUSD bear THS parking fault
Parking was an issue when I was attending Tracy High 30 years ago. The City Council has built a “civic center” across the street and the school district has almost rebuilt the entire campus and neither has done anything to address the parking problem. I view this as a complete failure on both their parts. From personal experience, when I called the police because somebody had blocked my driveway, they did not send an officer. They sent an elderly gentleman who said “Oh my.” He asked to call a tow truck but he not. He wasn’t even going to write a ticket until I became a bit hostile with him. In a real city with real enforcement, all I have to do is call the tow truck and the vehicle is removed. If it’s not your driveway, stay out of it and don’t block it. If the proper respect of moral law for others is not working, then city leaders need to address the problem with laws on the books to protect us from those who seem to believe they are above and beyond the rest of us.
Jeffery McDonald, Tracy
Teacher merit pay defense
Mickey McGuire took a contrary view as to the value of merit pay for teachers. Before we discuss his objections, two things should be noted. First, there was no attempt to defend the existing system where teachers get increased pay for higher levels of education or years as a teacher. Education and years on the clock do not necessarily a better teacher make, and Mickey was right to not even try to defend such a system. Mickey neglected to disagree with the Dallas School District’s attempt to base 35 percent of merit pay on actual student performance, as it is an objective measurement of performance. Mickey mentioned studies that came to a conclusion of no correlation between teacher merit pay and student achievement with certain merit pay systems. He “forgot” to mention that there have been studies by Harvard, University of Chicago, UC San Diego and others that did show that merit pay, if done correctly, showed significant improvement in student performance. Mickey objected to part of the Dallas district merit plan that based 15 percent of performance on a student survey as arbitrary. While there is always one or two students that don’t like a teacher because they think the teacher is unfair, all the administrators and teachers I have known have taken a lot of stock in what students say about teacher performance. After all, they are the actual consumers of education and who would know better? His final objection was to administrative observations as being part of performance evaluations. Having spent 32 years in the private sector and 15 years in education, I have found 95 percent of my evaluations by bosses to be fair. Bosses, at least ones that want to survive, do not arbitrarily evaluate their employees based upon their personal feelings. Principals and the bosses I worked for got to keep their jobs by getting rid of poor-performing employees and giving merit pay to good ones.
Scott Hurban, Tracy
Robin Williams missed
I will miss the joy of new discoveries with Robin Williams. When you have depression, I know that it’s an unfathomable pit. I have a cousin who recently committed suicide after years of hearing voices. She had a similar exit strategy to Williams.
Several years ago, we were in the middle of driving back and forth to Palo Alto to the children’s hospital at Stanford. Every single time we went, there was another article in the newspaper about the suicide pact of teens at Gunn High School. They had four suicides, at the same train crossing. Many teen suicides — including Columbine — are a response to bullying.
Satan is a good prompter, any chance he gets at making those who are already feeling low to feel even lower than low. They can’t see any way out of the pit. They forget to look up and see God, an ever-present help, at the top of that pit. Williams didn’t need much prompting, as he had so many stressors. He was trying to sell a chateau in Napa Valley. That’s not a good fit for an alcoholic/addict trying to maintain recovery, and likely why he was trying to sell. His career was ebbing and flowing — another easy thing to see why he felt so low — as his hilarious series, “The Crazy Ones” was canceled after one season.
That he lifted himself out of these pits before was phenomenal. That he had such a sparkling and funny trajectory in his star-making path was uplifting for so long. And if the main part of his legacy is that he showed those who have depression to just ask for help, that’s enough. I grieve that he’s gone, but what a life! He was a shooting star, gone much too soon.
Deborah Littleton, Tracy