Only two days after voters rejected Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's initiatives in the special election, the governor tried to make amends with one of his bitterest enemies the California Nurses Association.


Schwarzenegger, who had backed hospital industry efforts to weaken a CNA-sponsored "safe staffing" law, withdrew his appeal of a Superior Court decision that had struck down his attempts to overturn key portions of the law.


An Administration spokeswoman said the governor took the action because he determined that hospitals had been able to comply with the higher staffing levels, despite complaints by hospitals that they were burdensome.


The CNA rejected that explanation.


"This is a testament to the heroic work of our members over the past year," said Chuck Idelson, spokesman for the CNA, which has been staging protests at Schwarzenegger's public appearances over the past year and organized a grassroots voter mobilization to kill the four initiatives Schwarzenegger placed on the Nov. 8 ballot.


The staffing rules required hospitals to have at least one nurse on duty for every five patients in medical wards, with even more stringent ratios in emergency, intensive care and other units. Courts forced the governor to implement the new rule, and most hospitals in the state have been meeting it for at least the past 10 months.


The rules originated from a landmark law passed at the behest of the nurses association and were the first such rules adopted in the nation. Nurses have complained that inadequate staffing and overwork have led to an exodus from the profession.

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