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Registered Nurses at St. Joseph Medical Center Hold Informational Picket During Stalled Contract Negotiations
Date:11/13/2009

TACOMA, Wash., Nov. 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA), representing more than 1,000 registered nurses at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, held an informational picket today to highlight issues critical to nurse recruitment and retention. During six negotiation sessions, little progress has been made, and the hospital's administration is proposing numerous reductions to the existing benefits and health care package. WSNA is concerned that the administration's proposed changes to the sick leave policy will discourage nurses from taking time off when they are sick. WSNA and hospital administration are scheduled to meet for federal mediation on November 17th.

"We are in the midst of a growing nursing shortage. I just find it shocking that the hospital would put forth a proposal that makes St. Joseph less and less competitive over the next three years. The administration needs to respect their nurses and provide them with an adequate salary and benefits package. The current proposal from the administration simply doesn't value the critical role nurses play in patient care, and that's not acceptable," said Barbara Frye, BSN, RN, Assistant Executive Director of Labor Relations for WSNA.

"As a fundamental issue of patient safety, nurses need to be encouraged to stay home when they are sick so they're not contributing to the spread of disease in the hospital. We're facing a flu pandemic right now which means that many nurses and their families are likely to be affected by flu this winter. It's important that nurses are able to take the time off that they need to care for themselves or their children. The administration's proposal would limit a nurse's ability to use earned illness time, which will effectively discourage nurses from calling in sick. This new policy is a step backwards and is especially alarming during this difficult flu season when the CDC is recommending that employers make their sick
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SOURCE Washington State Nurses Association
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