Thursday, June 14, 2001

Molokai nurses
return to work
without a contract

By Helen Altonn

Five registered nurses at Molokai General Hospital today ended a strike that began May 12, but left contract negotiations open with their employer.

Caroldean Kahue, Hawaii Nurses' Association negotiator, said they unanimously rejected two offers on the table from the hospital administrators this morning.

But they notified the employer they will go back to work while the association continues the bargaining, she said.

"The nurses said they have made their point," Kahue said. "They're fine with their decision and still hopeful of resolving other issues. That was basically the foundation for them walking out to begin with."

Nancy McGuckin , executive director of the nurses' association, said a dispute about payment of wages to management is being submitted to arbitration.

One of the reason the nurses went on strike is that the contract had a provision that if management got a pay raise, everybody got one, she said.

That didn't happen, so the association filed a grievance that increased wages were paid to the administrators in violation of the contract, she said.

The grievance was denied, so it is going to arbitration, she said.

The nurses, who haven't had a pay raise in three years, will return to work for the same pay they were getting -- $25.10 an hour.

Kahue said the hospital's nursing supervisor told them they couldn't go back until the employer's spokesperson is notified at the Hawaii Employers Council.

That was being done this morning.

The Molokai hospital, the only emergency room and urgent care clinic on the island, has six registered nurses. One did not strike.

The last offers from the hospital weren't disclosed but earlier offers included a 1 percent increase per year over the next two years if the contract were extended to 2003.

The nurses wanted the contract to expire in 2002 so they could take up other issues.

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