HONOLULU (KHON2) — The nurses of Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women and Children voted to ratify a three-year agreement, culminating six months of intense negotiations. The agreement was presented last week after an all-day mediation session and the nurses voted electronically over a two-day period, which ended at midnight on Thursday, Jan. 21.
[Hawaii news on the go–LISTEN to KHON 2GO weekday mornings at 7:30 a.m.]
The agreement includes annually scheduled wage increases totaling 7% over the next three years, improvements to the paid time-off process, and shared costs for health insurance premiums. Through the collective bargaining process, the hospital has also agreed to now make safety a priority with improvements in COVID-19 protocols to protect the health of patients and staff.
“Throughout the challenging past six months, the nurses have continued to give their all to support the hospital’s patients, but the nurses were willing to walk away from it all to demand a fair and safer work environment,” said Daniel Ross, president of the Hawai‘i Nurses’ Association OPEIU Local 50, noting that the majority vote in favor of the agreement averts a strike by the nurses.
“While we hope this is the beginning of a more collaborative working relationship with Kapi‘olani’s management, we cannot in good conscience celebrate this milestone knowing there are other glaring deficiencies in the hospital, Ross said, referring to the hospital’s treatment of its respiratory therapists. “We are committed to ensure the hospital extends the same respect to our other healthcare colleagues to raise the standard of care for our patients.”
The hospital’s respiratory therapists have banded together to negotiate a first-time agreement with the support of the Hawai‘i Nurses’ Association. Over the past 16 months, Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women and Children has not yet addressed their safety and staffing concerns.
Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women and Children gave this statement:
We’re extremely pleased that our nurses have voted to ratify the new three-year contract. Together with the nurses’ union, we were able to reach a fair and sustainable agreement that offers highly competitive wages and benefits, and addresses nurses’ PPE and safety concerns while being mindful of the continued unreliable supply of necessary PPE. We are eager to move forward as one team to continue providing safe, quality care for our community.
Kapi’olani is also currently in negotiations with the Hawai’i Nurses Association (HNA) on a first-time contract for our respiratory therapists. Any suggestion that our PPE practices are unsafe is misleading. In fact, the union has agreed to our PPE and safety measures, as demonstrated by the agreement reached for nurses and recent contract ratification. We know our current PPE practices are effective as we haven’t had any Kapi’olani employees test positive for COVID-19 due to an exposure from a patient when these practices have been followed.
We’re also proud to have rolled out a very successful vaccine distribution effort for all of our health care workers, which has provided all those interested in getting the COVID-19 vaccine with the opportunity to do so. The vaccine provides our staff with an added level of protection for them, their families and our community.
When it comes to staffing, we base our staffing levels on patient volumes. Just as with other hospitals around the country, our patient census numbers have declined during the pandemic, and our staffing levels have fluctuated as a result. We appreciate the work of our respiratory therapists and hope to reach a contract resolution soon.Martha Smith
CEO, Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women & Children
Executive Vice President, O’ahu Operations, Hawai’i Pacific Health