Honolulu nurses protest sick time amid contract negotiations

November 20, 2019 GMT

HONOLULU (AP) — Unionized nurses working without a contract at a Honolulu hospital have been protesting outside the hospital since last weekend and plan to continue the effort Wednesday as they dispute what they characterize as an overly strict sick time policy.

About 50 of the 450 nurses at Straub Medical Center represented by The Hawaii Nurses Associated picketed on Tuesday, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser newspaper reported.

The nurses’ contract expired on Nov. 1 and they are trying to draw attention to what they consider a “strict and punitive attendance policy,” said association President Daniel Ross.

“Their major issue is the archaic attendance policy,” Ross said. “If you call in sick twice in one month, you get disciplined. You call in (sick) three times in six months, you get disciplined. The result of it is that it causes workers to come to work sick, saying it’s not safe, it’s not right. When workers come to work sick, they can get their patients sicker.”

Straub CEO Art Gladstone contested that view, saying the hospital’s parent company, Hawaii Pacific Health, has a fair and equitable attendance policy for its more than 7,000 employees.

“Our policies and procedures are standardized to ensure fairness for all employees and the care and safety of our patients,” Gladstone said. “As a health care organization, the well-being of both our patients and our employees are among our top priorities.”

The hospital has offered the nurses a contract settlement providing wages and benefits consistent with other union contracts, said Gladstone, who is also the chief nurse executive for Hawaii Pacific Health.

Contract negotiations are scheduled to resume Wednesday.


Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com