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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, May 13, 2001

Six nurses on Moloka'i strike

By Scott Ishikawa
Advertiser Staff Writer

As expected, the six registered nurses at Moloka'i's only hospital went on strike yesterday, although the hospital remains open for medical care.

The 30-bed Moloka'i General Hospital is the only clinic on the island that offers emergency care.

Mary Bonifacio, the hospital's director of nursing, said the facility's emergency room and urgent-care and long-care operations were running normally yesterday, using two nursing administrators who also are practicing nurses.

Negotiators for the nurses' union and the hospital, owned by the Queen's Health System, did not meet yesterday, Bonifacio said. The two sides were not scheduled to meet today.

"We're hopeful this will be resolved soon, but we're not expecting any talks (today), although we are available," Bonifacio said.

Caroldean Kahue, chief negotiator for the Hawai'i Nurses' Association, was on the island, but could not be reached for comment.

The nurses are asking for a package that includes a one-time bonus and a 1 percent wage increase that would total less than $5,000 a year for all six staff members. The nurses have not received a pay increase in more than three years, according to the union.

Bonifacio said hospital negotiators made a fair offer that included pay raises, but it was rejected. Hospital administrators say the hospital loses more than $2 million a year and relies on subsidies from the state and the Queen's Health System.