nurses to meet

Negotiations are now set
at all 3 Oahu hospitals
weathering strikes

By Lyn Danninger

Officials from Kuakini Medical Center and the union representing its striking nurses will return to the bargaining table Jan. 6.

Kuakini spokeswoman Donda Spiker said the meeting, which begins at 10 a.m. at a location yet to be determined, was called by the federal mediator.

The union had yet to be notified late yesterday afternoon of the scheduled talks but a spokesman for Hawaii Nurses Association said they are hopeful an agreement can be reached this time.

"Of course we want a resolution, it's just a shame it's taken so long with Kuakini," said HNA spokesman Scott Foster.

The last time the two sides met was Jan. 19. But after almost nine hours of negotiations, talks broke off. Kuakini employs approximately 210 nurses and, -- like the two other hospitals affected by the strike, The Queen's Medical Center and St. Francis Medical Center -- Kuakini brought in temporary replacement nurses from the mainland.

The Kuakini dispute centers predominantly around the issues of mandatory overtime and retiree health benefits. During the last negotiation session, Kuakini proposed eventually eliminating all mandatory overtime and using volunteers first or agency nurses second, should the need for overtime arise.

The hospital also offered to set up a separately administered health plan for retirees not eligible for Medicare benefits. Health insurance premiums would still be paid for by the nurses.

The union objected to contract language relating to the maximum number of consecutive hours nurses can work and also wanted the hospital to include nurse retirees in the same group health plan as active employees.

Kuakini spokeswoman Spiker said she's hopeful the two sides can come together this time.

"We've always been opening to bargaining in good faith and we look forward to reaching a tentative settlement very soon," she said.

Another round of negotiations for Queen's and St. Francis are scheduled for later this week.

Striking nurses from Queen's are scheduled to march tomorrow to celebrate the birthday of hospital founder and patron Queen Emma.

Beginning at 8 a.m., the group will gather at Nuuanu Valley Park behind the Queen Emma Summer Palace and proceed to the Royal Mausoleum for a short service. At 9 a.m. the group will march to join picketers at the medical center.

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

Hawaii Nurses Association

E-mail to Business Editor


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2003 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --