Kauai nurses get ‘best, final’ offer
Wilcox threatens an impasse if its "really good" proposal fails to end a 15-week strike
LIHUE » As the Wilcox Hospital strike enters its 15th week today, nurses are looking at what hospital officials are calling their "last, best and final offer," a union official said yesterday.
Aggie Pigao Cadiz, the statewide Hawaii Nurses Association executive director, said an informational meeting for the roughly 130 nurses still on strike is scheduled Monday.
The meeting was called to explain the details of the offer and give the negotiating team the chance to get a feel for the membership's wishes.
Pigao Cadiz said the hospital has threatened to call an impasse in negotiations if the most recent offer is not accepted.
If an impasse is declared and upheld by the National Labor Relations Board, the hospital would be able to begin hiring permanent replacements for the striking nurses under terms outlined in the final offer, she added.
But hospital spokeswoman Lani Yukimura said it's the hospital's hope that the offer will be accepted. She added that the administration is not looking beyond a vote next week.
"It's a really good offer, and it shows that we've been listening," Yukimura said.
"We've moved on major issues," she added, but would not get into the specifics.
When the strike started in June, there were two major issues on the table: the staff-to-patient ratio and on-call procedures for operating room nurses.
Money had not been a factor in the contract dispute.
Pigao Cadiz said that while the hospital has moved on the staff-to-patient ratio, it has never changed its stance on the on-call procedures.
Plus, since the strike began, the administration has made "punitive" offers, such as eliminating about a dozen licensed practical nurse positions, adjustments on monetary compensation and a host of other issues, Pigao Cadiz said. Some of those remain in negotiation, but she couldn't say whether the new offer had alleviated the worries of the licensed practical nurses.
Yukimura reiterated that the offer was fair and said she hoped the entire membership would have a chance to express their opinions on it.
"The last offer is the best offer we can give, because we've made a lot of movement," she added. "I encourage all members to read the proposal."
The 71-bed Wilcox Hospital, Kauai's lone full-service health-care facility, remains fully operational and "continues to be adequately staffed," Yukimura said. But, she added, "we want our nurses back."