Queen’s and nurses hit
impasse on time off, overtime

By Lyn Danninger

Negotiations broke off between the union representing striking nurses and The Queen's Medical Center at 1:15 this morning with both sides accusing the other of bad-faith bargaining.

According to the Hawaii Nurses Association, the hospital is refusing to consider counterproposals on two of its biggest issues: paid time off and mandatory overtime.

But Queen's said in order for it to fund the package it is offering, the components of the proposal cannot be taken apart.

The paid time off component of the package manages one of the hospital's biggest problems -- the high rate of nurse absenteeism, said Queen's spokeswoman Lynn Kenton.

"In order to provide things like the increased dental and medical caps, and increased pensions that we offered, the wage, benefit and PTO package must remain intact," she said.

Paid time off combines sick leave and vacation. Workers are rewarded for taking fewer sick days by being able to use the days for longer paid vacations.

Kenton said the proposal has always been a package of wages, benefits and time off.

"It's one package. We've made that very clear that it cannot be separated out," she said.

In a more recent proposal, the nurses union said it would reconsider the issue of paid time off if the hospital would supply supporting documentation.

Should the hospital's claim of excess absenteeism be supported, the union said it would agree to the paid time off in the third year of the contract.

"They have shared their conclusions, but they have not shared the supporting documentation," said union spokesman Scott Foster.

Kenton disagrees. "My understanding is that we shared substantial information on sick time, which we presented to the union last night," she said.

Foster said the union returned to the table last night specifically to find areas of the package they could agree on and then focus on areas of disagreement.

But Queen's counters the union argument, saying it was open to discussion of the issues.

"Last night our negotiators went to the table willing to discuss what the union leadership said were the biggest issues for them, which include patient safety, staffing and mandatory overtime," Kenton said .

"There was no substantive discussion on any of these issues from the union. In fact, our negotiators received an old proposal that the nurses had submitted previously, which was virtually unchanged from before," she said.

Queen's Medical Center
Hawaii Nurses Association

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