Kapiolani Medical Center nurses consider strike as contract negotiations remain stalled

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii Nurses Association along with nurses at the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children plan to hold a vote to authorize a strike over stalled negotiations with the hospital’s management.

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The strike proposal comes after nearly 5 months of ongoing contract negotiations and a final settlement offer from the medical center, which was made in late December of 2020.

“Management of Kapiolani Medical Center has refused to budge on issues that are critically important to patient and employee safety and instead is demanding financial concessions from the nurses,” said Daniel Ross, President of the Hawaii Nurses’ Association (HNA) OPEIU Local 50, which represents Kapiolani Medical Center’s 725 nurses. “The nurses have been generously giving their all in the spirit of cooperation and lōkahi to support the community during this challenging time, but there has not been any appreciation by the hospital. Kapiolani Medical Center has been demanding its nurses pay a higher percentage of their healthcare premiums and be satisfied with zero to below-average wage increases. They have continued to show grave disrespect for the nurses and their contributions to patient care throughout our negotiations.”

Several nurses are expected to join the strike should it be voted on, raising some concerns about hospital staff shortages amid an ongoing pandemic.

“Our nurses are important to us and we’re pleased to be able to continue to provide generous and competitive benefits during these challenging economic times,” said Kapiolani Medical Center CEO Martha Smith. “We’re disappointed that the Hawaii Nurses Association indicated to us that it would not present our offer to the nurses and our nurses were not given the opportunity to formally review or vote on this offer.”

Kapiolani management says it has already agreed to reduce the number of times N95 masks are sanitized and reissued, a major concern that HNA presented during negotiations.

“We truly hope we can avoid a strike. However, should the union choose to go that route, we have made the necessary preparations and have contingency plans in place for qualified temporary staffing to ensure there is no impact on patient care or services at Kapiolani,” Smith said.

Kapiolani Medical Center management is scheduled to meet with HNA on Jan. 13.

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