Wilcox letter upsets nurses’ negotiators

In response to a letter sent from Wilcox Hospital to striking nurses, the union negotiating team made three requests yesterday to a federal mediator.

Hawai‘i Nurses Association negotiator D.Q. Jackson said yesterday a letter from Wilcox chief executive Kathy Clark recently began arriving at the homes of striking nurses. In it, Jackson said, Clark wrote that nurses are not getting all the information from the union.

“It’s a very interesting letter,” Jackson said. “She suggested that the negotiating team is not fully informing the nurses of what is happening in the sessions.”

When reached for comment late Saturday, Wilcox community relations director Lani Yukimura did not have a copy of the letter in front of her, but she was familiar with the content.

“(Clark’s) intention was to let the nurses know what was being offered,” Yukimura said. “I think she felt when she wrote it that we do want to end this strike and one of the ways was to let the nurses know what was being offered to them, to assure that they got it, because we just don’t know.”

Jackson, a Wilcox nurse, said he objects to the contentions made in the letter, and the requests were made as a result.

The first request is that Clark attends the negotiations.

“Since she is making comments about sessions that she’s been nowhere near, then she might as well be near them,” Jackson said.

The two sides will sit down with federal mediator Carol Catanzariti tomorrow at 9 a.m. at the Kaua‘i Marriott.

HNA also requested to extend the session throughout the week instead of meeting only Monday and Friday, as previously scheduled.

Finally, Jackson said, if Clark wants the nurses to get all the information, then they might as well also attend the sessions as observers.

“I doubt that’s ever done with any unions,” Yukimura said. “They have their representatives who negotiate on their behalf.”

Jackson said several nurses will be outside the Kuna Meeting Rooms Monday.

“We don’t know if Hawaii Pacific Health will allow (them in) or not,” he said. “If they won’t allow it, we’re sure the nurses will have something to say.”

While Jackson and the union seem to be going public, Wilcox and parent company HPH want to keep things private.

“We still prefer to take care of these things at the negotiating sessions rather than in public,” Yukimura said. “All of the strike issues and any of the discussion about it needs to happen at the table.”

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