Maui nurses, healthcare workers hold car parade to highlight contract dispute

Updated: Feb. 15, 2021 at 5:00 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nurses and other frontline healthcare staff at Maui Memorial Medical Center organized a vehicle parade Monday to bring attention to their fight for a new contract.

Participants say the event was aimed at bringing attention to the risks and sacrifices they’ve made during the pandemic as they negotiate a new contract.

“I know personally nurses that have slept in the carport for fear of exposing their families,” said Philip Velasco, a nurse case manager at Maui Memorial and president of the Hawaii nurses union that represents 900 Maui nurses and other frontline healthcare staff.

He says a big sticking point is no wage increase in the first year.

“There is a sign located where we sign in that says ‘heroes work here.’ It’s kind of a slap in the face because we show up every day and we see the sign yet you’re offering us 0%,” said Velasco.

He says staff want a livable wage, but many are leaving because of burnout.

“We are all frustrated,” he said.

Maui Health says it cannot respond to detailed questions because of active negotiations.

“Maui Health has been in good faith negotiations for several months,” the hospital, said in a statement.

“Tentative agreements are in place, but there are additional issues to be discussed and agreed upon, which we will continue to do so with planned negotiations later this week. Maui Health remains optimistic that a fair and equitable agreement will be reached soon,” it added.

Many hospitals have been struggling with lower revenues during the pandemic.

While Kapiolani nurses voted to authorize a strike recently before settling on a contract, Maui Memorial union members say they haven’t reached that point and insist patient safety has never been compromised.

Both sides are scheduled to meet before a federal mediator Tuesday. A contract extension expires in April.

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