Washoe Med Nurses prepare for one-day walkout
RENO, Nev. (AP) – Nurses at Washoe Medical Center on Monday made final preparations to strike while hospital administrators said plans were in place to ensure there were no disruptions during the one-day walkout.
”The strike is still on,” said Carin Franklin, a registered nurse and organizer for Operating Engineers Local 3.
Franklin estimated ”hundreds” of nurses and their supporters would participate in the 24-hour walkout, scheduled to begin at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday.
The strike targets six units of the 529-bed hospital, including cardiac intensive care, emergency room, intensive care nursery, MRI, neurology and telemetry.
”It was done that way so that the hospital was not totally left without any vested nurses in the community not working,” Franklin said.
The picket line will be set up at a park across the street from the hospital on Mill Street.
Washoe Med spokeswoman Judy Davis said temporary replacements have been hired to ensure hospital operations are not compromised.
”We are ready,” Davis said Monday. Based on schedules, hospital officials have hired replacements for 70 positions in the affected units, she said.
”We do have some additional replacement nurses that are here and ready to go in the event that something else would happen,” Davis said, ”just to have that additional backup in place to ensure that our service and patient care will not be disrupted.”
The hospital’s contract with the replacement agency requires a five-day minimum, so any nurses who return to their jobs after the one-day walkout will be asked to go home unless they are needed, Davis said.
Tuesday’s strike is to protest allegations of unfair labor practices during negotiations with the union, Franklin said.
Davis downplayed the accusations as a frequent maneuver during contract talks.
”It’s a very common practice and it pretty much flies back and forth with great regularity,” she said.
The National Labor Relations Board has scheduled an Aug. 14 hearing on the matter.
”We feel the NLRB will ultimately find no merit in the charges filed by the union,” Davis said.
The hospital’s registered nurses voted 315-206 in July 1999 to join the ranks of the union’s Local 3 based in Alameda, Calif.
But after 18 months, hospital administrators said contract negotiations are at an impasse. The nurses in March rejected Washoe Med’s final contract offer because it did not address their key concern of staffing levels, Franklin said.
”If you have 13 patients and you’re working a 12-hour day, there’s not one patient that gets an hour of your time,” she said. ”They want a voice in the staffing because that is truly the issue of patient care.”
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