Nurses strike at
2 hospitals

Kuakini and St. Francis hospitals
hope to keep their emergency rooms
open during the strike

Nurses at Queen’s vote today on a contract
but are set to strike if no deal is reached

By Lyn Danninger

With their colleagues at St. Francis and Kuakini medical centers already on the picket lines, nurses at Queen's Medical Center are voting today to decide whether they will join the strike.

The Queen's nurses are expected to finish voting by 6 p.m., and the results may be known by 7 p.m., said Scott Foster, spokesman for the Hawaii Nurses Association.

The key sticking point for Queen's nurses continues to be paid time off. The latest hospital proposal would reward nurses for good attendance by giving them five free days, but cuts into vacation time if they exhaust their allotted sick leave.

HNA negotiation Caroldean Kahue said the proposal is unfair because nurses work in an environment that leaves them prone to illness.

"We've told them several times during our meetings that (paid time off) is a strike issue, but (Queen's) dug their heels in and that's it.

Layoffs at St. Francis

Amid Day One of its nurses strike, St. Francis, which employs 370 nurses, laid off 100 employees, including nurses who are not HNA members, secretaries, maintenance personnel and food and nutrition workers, according to spokeswoman Maggie Jarrett.

"The plan is once this is settled ... those people will be called back as needed," she said.

St. Francis stopped admitting new patients last week and stopped outpatient surgeries Saturday in anticipation of a strike.

On the picket line, about 30 nurses followed the instructions of two police officers stationed at the Liliha Street entrance. Another 30 nurses walked the line at the hospital's other entrance on Mahalo Street. Traffic was flowing smoothly. St. Francis nurses plan to picket around the clock, with nurses walking eight-hour shifts.

Also this morning, about 60 Kuakini nurses walked picket lines at three entrances on North Kuakini Street and 10 more nurses were at the entrance on Stillman Lane. The pickets were orderly and did not disrupt traffic into or out of the hospital.

"Our aim is just to have a presence here. We're following the street signs, the legal street signs. That's what the police advised us to do," said Kerry Lineham, an intensive care nurse.

There are two neutral entrances being left open for physicians and families. Lineham said the nurses are walking in four hour shifts around the clock.

Queen's contract

The proposal being voted on today by Queen's nurses offers a 29 percent pay raise over three years for recent nursing graduates, a 21 percent raise for nurses with two years of experience, a 23 percent raise for nurses who have worked at Queen's for 10 years and a 26 percent raise for nurses who have been with Queen's for 15 years. The proposal increases a beginning nurse's pay to $43,805 from $29,354 a year. A nurse who has been with the hospital for 15 years would go to $71,635 from $62,629 per year.

Queen's, which employs the largest bargaining unit at 821 nurses, said it is preparing for a possible strike by bringing in about 200 replacement nurses from the mainland.

Earlier this week, Kaiser and Kapiolani nurses reached tentative agreements with their employers. Both agreements will be voted on in the next few days, said Scott Foster, spokesman for HNA.

"We're trying to schedule them now (the votes) at the HSTA building." he said.

Star-Bulletin reporter Nelson Daranciang contributed to this report.

St. Francis Healthcare System
Queen's Medical Center
Kuakini Health System

Hawaii Nurses Association

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