Letter Sent to HGEA Unit 9 Nurses, May 16, 2011
We, your Bargaining Unit 9 negotiating team, want to provide you with an update on the status of negotiations for your 2011-2013 contract. As you know, upon rejection of the settlement agreement, we returned to negotiations.
Nurses in bargaining unit 9 work in several jurisdictions. Besides the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, which employs 1,091 (60% of bargaining unit 9) nurses, the State of Hawaii employs 432 nurses, and Judiciary and County of Hawaii, 3 and 1 nurse(s) respectively.
While the majority of nurses are employed in HHSC, it is the State administration that retains control of negotiations according to collective bargaining law. The State has not changed the terms of the settlement offer that were rejected by Unit 9 members during the ratification process.
HGEA has reached out to the State to determine their willingness to address issues facing nurses in institutional settings. The State has not been responsive, continuing to cite their inability to address our concerns due to budget constraints. To date, there is no progress with the State jurisdiction.
HGEA has also had informal discussions with the HHSC regarding possible resolution to the various concerns expressed by acute care hospital nurses. Issues included pay inequity with private sector acute nurses; recruitment difficulties in various facilities; and working condition issues caused by short staffing. HHSC continues to express interest in addressing certain issues raised during the contract ratification meetings.
If agreement is not reached in the current round of negotiations, the team will make a decision on whether to proceed to arbitration. The timetable for arbitration is contained in a March 23, 2011 Memorandum of Agreement, which allows for either the Union or the Employer to request the Hawaii Labor Relations Board (HLRB) implement impasse procedures. Within 20 days of the date of such request, an arbitration panel will be selected. A hearing will be held within 30 days after appointment of the panel and within 30 days after the conclusion of the hearing, a decision shall be reached. With this timetable, a decision could be reached 3 months following notification to the Board.
There have been questions raised about the “favored nation” clause, which was part of the settlement accepted by all HGEA bargaining units except Unit 9. The favored nation status applies in relation to other unions currently negotiating with the employer. If a more favorable settlement is reached through negotiations by a non-HGEA bargaining unit, then HGEA members of bargaining units 2, 3, 4, 6, 8 and 13 will receive the same terms.
Upon further developments, we will provide an update via e-mail, the HGEA website and/or hard copies distributed to worksites. We are also willing to meet with Unit 9 members to discuss the status of negotiations. Please contact your union agent to schedule such meetings. Thank you for your support and for the care you give to Hawaii’s people every day on the job.
Bargaining Unit 9 negotiating team:
Liz Asahara, Hilo Medical Center;
Sue Kaulukukui, Department of Health, Windward Health Center;
Susie Uwekoolani, Maui Memorial Medical Center;
Cash Lopez, Kauai District Health Office;
Janet Lee, Department of Public Safety, Wahiawa Correctional Facility