Nurses at Spokane’s North Side hospital are threatening to demonstrate for pay equal to that of their downtown counterparts.
“They’re wanting to give us much less,” said Dayle Byrnes, a nurse involved in the contract dispute with Holy Family Hospital administrators.
If a federal mediator can’t settle the tense negotiations next week, nurses plan to hold an informational picket outside the hospital, 5633 N. Lidgerwood.
“The nurses feel like we’re really being devalued,” said Byrnes, who works in an advanced care unit. “It’s kind of like a slap in the face.”
Hospital administrators refused to discuss details but expressed optimism the disagreements will be resolved quickly.
Top-scale nurses earn $24.68 an hour at their 25-year anniversary at Holy Family; they want $26.84 by 1997.
Rookie nurses make $15.80 an hour; they want $16.36 by February 1997, according to negotiators.
The raises, they say, would put them at the same level as Sacred Heart Medical Center nurses, who won a substantial contract in January.
“The nurses don’t work any less hard at Holy Family,” said Matt Halliday, attorney for the Washington State Nurses Association.
Both hospitals are owned by Sisters of Providence, a Catholic Order of sisters based in Montreal.
Holy Family Hospital doesn’t want raises built into the next contract, which would expire in February 1998, said Halliday.
“They’re being asked to do more and more and asked to do it for the same money,” he said.
Nurses got their most recent raise - 2.7 percent - last February, when hospital officials decided to extend the last contract through the spring.
Other disputed issues include:
How many hours of rest between shifts nurses should get before Holy Family has to pay overtime. Nurses say 12 hours between eight-hour shifts; the hospital says 10 hours.
Whether all the hospital’s 290 nurses should be forced to join the union. Nurses say yes; Holy Family says no.
How much extra pay nurses get on weekends. Nurses say the current rate of $3 an hour; the hospital says $2.
The nurses’ push for higher pay comes at a time when some Washington hospitals are freezing pay scales and most are hiring fewer registered nurses.
“A lot of nurses have forgone the across-the-board increases because health care times are uncertain,” Halliday said.
“The problem in Eastern Washington is, traditionally we’ve been way behind everyone else.”