Betty Fujimoto, left, and Jacqui Mitchell waved to passers-by yesterday while holding the "mahalo" signs in place of strike signs at the St. Francis Hospital.

St. Francis nurses
ready to get
back their jobs

By Lyn Danninger

Officials from St. Francis Medical Center and the nurses' union began return-to-work discussions yesterday after reaching a tentative contract agreement Thursday night.

The meeting began at 1:30 p.m. and was still going late yesterday evening, but an agreement was expected.

"We should have something later tonight," said Hawaii Nurses Association spokesman Scott Foster.

Nurses on the picket line at St. Francis Medical Center yesterday said they were relieved an agreement was reached.

"I'm happy and amazed to have a three-year contract, which was really important to us," said Lorraine Hinaga.

The tentative agreement includes an 18 percent salary increase over three years; with 4 percent the first year, 6 percent the second year and 8 percent the third year. St. Francis also agreed to establish a retiree medical plan.

The union plans to hold an informational meeting beginning at 8 a.m. Sunday at the Laborers International Union hall on Palama Street, followed by a ratification vote. Nurses say it's likely the contract will be approved, particularly when compared to the hospital's previous salary offer: a one-year contract with a raise ranging between 2 percent and 4 percent.

At that time, nurses really thought there was no hope, Hinaga said. "We really thought we'd have to go and find other jobs," she said.

Meanwhile, some Kuakini Medical Center nurses returned to work yesterday for the first time since they went out on strike in early December.

The nurses ratified a new contract Jan. 10. They had to attend mandatory orientation sessions, which included an introduction to a new computer software system installed shortly after the strike began Dec. 2.

Nurses from Queen's Medical Center are scheduled to start returning to work Jan. 24 after ratifying their contract Thursday evening.

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

Hawaii Nurses Association

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