Hawaii medical center nurses vote to authorize strike

Kelly Gooch - Print  | 

Nurses at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children in Honolulu have authorized their bargaining committee to call a strike, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

The Hawaii Nurses Association OPEIU Local 50, which represents 725 nurses at the hospital, said nurses voted in favor of strike authorization over a three-day voting period, according to the newspaper, which cites a union statement.

The vote does not mean a strike will occur. However, it allows the nurses to set a strike date if a new contract agreement is not reached.

"The nurses have spoken. It is very clear they feel the hospital has left them no choice but to take this action to protest Kapiolani management's disregard for our concerns and the hospital's continued unfair labor practices," Daniel Ross, RN, president of the Hawaii Nurses Association, said, according to the Star Advertiser. "We hope this serves as a wake-up call to Kapiolani's management."

Both sides have been negotiating a new contract for months.

According to the union, the nurses are seeking competitive pay and claim Kapiolani Medical Center has demanded they pay a greater proportion of their healthcare premiums. The union also contends nurses have to intermingle with patients who have and do not have COVID-19 during the same shift and are being required to reuse N95 masks.

Kapiolani Medical Center CEO Martha Smith disputed the union's claims in a statement shared with the Star-Advertiser.

"For months now, Kapiolani has been dedicated to reaching a collective bargaining agreement with HNA that addresses our nurses' concerns and is fair to all parties," she said. "We reject any assertion that our team is bargaining in bad faith and remain committed to reaching an equitable and responsible labor agreement in a timely manner."

In her statement, Ms. Smith also pointed to the significant financial toll the pandemic has taken on the medical center due to declines in volume and patient activity. Additionally, she maintained that the medical center has presented a fair offer and that "any suggestion that our PPE practices are unsafe is misleading."

Both sides are scheduled to return to the bargaining table with a federal negotiator on Jan. 13, according to the Star-Advertiser.


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