Kaiser nurses
approve contract

Nurses at 3 other hospitals
are still walking picket lines

Staff and news service reports

While some 1,400 nurses at Queen's, Kuakini and St. Francis hospitals continue to strike with no new talks scheduled, Kaiser Permanente nurses approved a contract that gives them approximately a 21 percent raise over the next three years.

The 562 nurses who work for Kaiser Medical Center and clinics began voting on the agreement yesterday morning voted to approve the deal by a "strong margin" a spokesman for the association said.

Voting began yesterday morning and continued until 11:30 last night. The results were announced at about midnight but the vote count was not released.

"The Kaiser nurses sincerely hope that their progressive new contract will encourage the other hospitals to resolve their disputes with the striking nurses," union collective bargaining director Sue Scheider said in a written statement.

Under the proposed contract, a staff nurse's base pay would increase over three years to $72,862 from $59,488, said Kaiser spokesman Chris Pablo.

Jean Shea, a nurse negotiator for the Hawaii Nurses Association, said the proposed Kaiser contract also improves health care benefits for retired nurses, improves patient care with a new staffing system, raises clinic nurses' pay to match hospital nurses, and offers nurses incentive pay to stay with Kaiser.

"The goal with the whole contract was to improve conditions for retention," Shea said.

The new measures also reduce the likelihood that a patient's nurse will be exhausted from working mandatory overtime, said Donna McLaughlan, a Kaiser emergency room nurse who is on the negotiating committee.

Meanwhile, St. Francis Medical Center said yesterday it has begun making arrangements with mainland nursing agencies to hire replacement nurses to care for critical care and kidney dialysis patients.

St. Francis said in a statement that it would hire as many replacement nurses as necessary to restore normal dialysis treatment schedules for 1,000 patients statewide.

Hospital management and Hawaii Nurses Association officials met for more than seven hours Friday night with a federal mediator concerning the hospital's request for the union to provide essential nurses for its dialysis, transplant and critically ill patients.

St. Francis spokeswoman Maggie Jarrett said the hospital decided to seek mainland replacements when the union would not agree to the request for the return of nurses for dialysis patients.

The hospital had no choice but to hire mainland nurses because it cannot have its patients' lives in jeopardy, its statement said.

"We're not going to allow them to manipulate an end-run around the strike," Scheider said. "They have the capability of getting other people to care for the patients."

Scheider said St. Francis shortened patient dialysis time and clinic hours even though it had enough nurses available, by using managers and nurses who crossed the picket line, to provide care.

Registered nurses at St. Francis and Kuakini have been on strike since Monday, while those at Queen's Medical Center have been striking since Tuesday.

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

Hawaii Nurses Association

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