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Local 5 workers at Honolulu nursing home go on three-day strike

Hundreds of workers at a Honolulu nursing home are now on strike.

The three-day strike, which began at 5:30 p.m. Monday and runs through 5:30 p.m. Thursday, does not discourage patients or their families from entering Hale Nani Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.

Members of Unite Here Local 5 did, however, picket and pass out leaflets claiming unfair treatment of workers, such as intimidation, surveillance, and termination.

Management has also not responded to calls for more staffing, they said.

"We love our residents and have made strong connections with their families. We are trying to make Avalon's Hale Nani a world-class facility. The company has responded by threatening union supporters and implying that we will lose our jobs if we stand up for our rights," says Rhoda Magaoay, a certified nursing assistant who was recently fired from Hale Nani.

Local 5 represents 211 Hale Nani workers-primarily certified nursing assistants and workers in the dietary, maintenance, recreation, and housekeeping departments.

Avalon Health Care recently purchased Hale Nani for about $44.6 million. It also owns the Avalon Care Center in Kalihi and the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home in Hilo.

Steve Gold, regional vice president of Avalon Health Care, released the following statement in response:

"The management of Hale Nani and Avalon Health Care have negotiated with Local 5 in good faith over the past 6 months. We are in fact close to agreement on numerous economic issues that will benefit employees. Some of the recent demands are clearly outside the scope of collective bargaining including issues with personnel actions. There are other ways to address these issues outside of collective bargaining. We spent this past weekend negotiating in hopes of averting a strike.

Hale Nani is fully prepared to provide all services and maintain our operations as usual and will continue to do so during the time frames targeted by the union.

Our current Certified Nursing Assistant staffing levels are among the best in the state and are substantially higher than the national average.

In fact, many of the current membership of Local 5 have voiced great dissatisfaction with the union's tactics, including threats and intimidation, and have requested the ability to remove their membership from union roles.

For more than 50 years Hale Nani has provided a legacy of quality skilled nursing care to the people of Hawaii. Our business continues as usual."

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