(BCN) — Nurses and supporters are holding rallies at three Santa Clara County health facilities on Monday as part of a day of action calling on county leaders to support improved working conditions for nurses and better-quality care for patients, the Registered Nurses Professional Association said.

The first rally was at 9 a.m. at St. Louise Regional Hospital, Front Entrance Courtyard, 9400 No Name Uno, Gilroy. At 12 p.m. a second rally was held at O’Connor Hospital, Cafeteria Lawn, 2105 Forest Ave, San Jose. Later in the day, protesting nurses and their supporters gathered at 3 p.m. at Valley Medical Center Main Hospital, Renova Park Plaza, 751 S Bascom Avenue, San Jose.

More than 3,750 nurses in the Santa Clara County Health and Hospital System – represented by the Registered Nurses Professional Association – are currently in contract negotiations with the county. Their last contract expired on Sunday.

Contract negotiations provide an opportunity for nurses to push for improvements that benefit healthcare professionals and patients alike, the group said.

County nurses have identified “scary” conditions that harm patient care such as short staffing and below-standard nurse to patient ratios. The patients who rely on the county’s public health system should have the same quality care as those who can afford private healthcare, but that is currently not the case, according to county nurses.

Nurses are also pointing to a dramatic increase in alleged workplace violence, along with troubling rates of nurses dealing with mental health concerns, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These issues, along with pay and benefit packages that are out of step with the local market, make it difficult for Santa Clara County to recruit and retain nurses,” the group said. “Nurses, in turn, have trouble affording to live in the communities they serve.”

Bay City News contributed to this story.