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Stanford Report, June 28, 2000

CRONA nurses still on strike  

Negotiators for Stanford Hospital and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital met throughout last week with representatives from the Committee for Recognition of Nursing Achievement (CRONA), but the talks ended Friday, June 23 with no agreement. No negotiations were scheduled as of press time.

Representatives from both sides had been in negotiations since March 1 on a new, two-year contract but were unable to come to an agreement by the union's June 7 strike deadline. After an initial hiatus, talks resumed on June 19 under the guidance of a mediator from the federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

Virtually all of the non-economic issues have been resolved, but the two sides remain relatively far apart on economic issues. The nurses are currently asking for a 17.5 percent increase in pay over two years, while the hospitals have offered total salary increases of 8 percent over the two-year life of the contract.

"The proposals that we have made keeps the nurses' pay competitive in the local market, while experienced and long-service nurses would continue to be among the highest paid nurses in the Bay Area," said Felix Barthelemy, the Medical Center's vice president of human resources.

The hospitals' proposal would cost approximately $8.5 million, while the union's proposal would cost about $25 million, he said.

If the Medical Center were to concede to the union's request, the long-term financial viability of the two hospitals would be compromised, Barthelemy said.

Stanford has hired some 500 replacement nurses from outside agencies and has an additional 350 non-union nurses, including nurse managers, who are now providing patient care.

The adult hospital is operating at 100 percent of its pre-strike occupancy, according to hospital figures. Packard Children's Hospital is at 80 percent of its pre-strike occupancy.

Both adults and children are being admitted for treatment, and the Emergency Department remains open and fully functioning. All operating rooms are also fully staffed and functioning, hospital officials say.

The nurses have continued to picket outside the hospitals and marched through downtown Palo Alto Monday seeking public support. SR