Bargaining begins after nurses end seven-day walkout at 82-bed care facility
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A day after nurses and certified nurses assistants ended a seven-day strike at Oahu Care Facility, both sides returned to the bargaining table in a bid to reach a new deal.
Thirty nurses and CNAs with the Hawaii Nurses Association spent a week picketing outside the Moiliili facility before returning to their jobs Wednesday.
There’s no new contract yet, but the union said it had two bargaining sessions with management.
“We were not sure if they were going to come back or accept proposals from us, and now that we’ve gone through the seven days, they were willing to have more conversations about the nurses’ contract,” said Mandy Vega, a labor relations specialist with the nurses union.
The nurses claim Pacific Skilled Healthcare, which took over ownership five months ago, proposed wage cuts for senior nurses and bargained in bath faith.
Despite its relatively small footprint on South Beretania Street, the facility has 82 beds.
“We’re talking about critical bed space that’s needed by hospitals and others who need to move people into different levels of care,” said State Rep. Della Au Belatti, who chairs the House Health Committee.
She also walked the picket line Tuesday morning.
Hawaii is already facing a nursing shortage.
The HNA said the new owner hasn’t been able to fully staff the facility because below-market wages make it difficult to recruit and retain staff, resulting in excessive overtime to cover shirts.
“They’re one of the lowest paid in the state,” said Vega. “It’s hard to compete with the other facilities, so that’s what they’re looking for.”
“You cannot allow these beds to go unstaffed, because as you leave these beds unstaffed, then you’re creating pressures on the rest of the (healthcare) system,” said Belatti.
HNN reached out to Oahu Care Facility for comment but did not get a response.
The union said more bargaining sessions are set again next week Monday for the CNAs, and Wednesday for the nurses.
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