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Stanford Report, August 9, 2000

Nurses return to work  

Nurses represented by the Committee for Recognition of Nursing Achievement (CRONA) returned to work August 2 at Stanford and Packard Children's Hospital after voting to accept a proposed two-year contract agreement, bringing an end to their 50-day strike.

The hospitals held numerous sessions last week for managers, employees and nurses to help facilitate the return to work of the nurses.

"I think people are working hard at renewing relationships and making a smooth transition," said Felix Barthelemy, vice president of human resources at Stanford Hospital and Clinics. "We're receiving significant cooperation from the union leadership in supporting the orderly return of the nurses. They're working with us wherever we have any trouble spots."

The hospitals have been working with all employees to make patient care areas a "neutral" zone where the staff can focus on patients and not debate issues surrounding the strike, he said.

Barthelemy said some 34 CRONA nurses -- 22 at Stanford and 12 at Packard -- had resigned since the start of the strike in June. The hospitals are continuing to use a very small number of nurses from U.S. Nursing, as well as some nurses from local registries, to help fill the staffing gaps, he said. CRONA represents some 1,700 nurses at the two hospitals.

Both hospitals have been offering full services during the transition and are operating at normal patient levels for this time of the year, he said.

"We are very pleased our nurses are back to work as an integral part of our patient care team," said Malinda Mitchell, chief executive officer of Stanford Hospital and Clinics.

The nurses voted July 27 to accept the settlement proposed by a federal mediator who had been involved in negotiations. The new agreement will give the nurses a 5 percent pay raise each year of the two-year contract. Nurses with more than 15 years of service will receive an additional one percent increase a year. By the second year of the new contract, a full-time nurse earning the average hourly rate would have an annual salary of $77,000, Barthelemy said.

In addition to the pay increase, the contract includes a review mechanism when there are concerns over staffing issues. The new contract also permits nurses to decline an overtime assignment if they are physically unable to provide safe patient care. SR