LIHU’E – Despite enduring seven weeks without paychecks, and being away that long from jobs they truly love, the nine St. Francis Medical Center registered nurses on strike on Kaua’i remain upbeat.
Not one has crossed picket lines to return to work, or even thought about applying for positions at other facilities, they said on the picket line along Ahukini Road Wednesday morning.
They are employees of St. Francis Medical Center’s Kauai Dialysis Satellite Facility at Lihu’e and Waimea, and St. Francis Home Care Services Kauai in Lihu’e, and have been on strike since Dec. 1.
They have been walking the Ahukini Road picket line outside the St. Francis Lihu’e dialysis and home-care buildings along Elua Street, positioned intentionally to take advantage of busy Ahukini Road traffic and not block the side-street entrance to the facilities.
The Lihu’e operations remain open for business, staffed by supervisors, technicians and some nurses not represented by the Hawaii Nurses Association that represents the striking nurses.
The strike has shut down the Waimea dialysis facility, with no plans to re-open the Westside facility as long as the strike continues.
The Kaua’i nurses were hopeful yesterday that St. Francis negotiators would respond to a mediator’s request to return to the bargaining table this morning, though the two sides remain far apart in contract talks.
St. Francis’ latest final offer is a one-year deal with a 4 percent wage increase, something HNA negotiators find laughable especially since other hospitals offered longer contracts and higher wage hikes.
Families of the St. Francis Kaua’i striking nurses remain supportive, but the financial difficulties the prolonged strike have inflicted will take awhile to heal, those on the picket line said yesterday.
The nurses yesterday also hadn’t heard any new information about an HNA plan to offer loans to the striking nurses.
Community support also continues to be strong, with teachers in the Hawaii State Teachers Association union being especially supportive, the nurses said.
The HSTA members were involved in a strike during the 2000-01 school year.
Donations of food items continue to pour in, also, the nurses said.