The San Benito Health Care District Board last week directed Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital administration to begin a fact-finding process and mediation with the California Nurses Association over a 14-month contract dispute. But a CNA representative said the nurses union as of Wednesday afternoon hadn’t been been contacted by the hospital to start mediation.
“As of now, the hospital has not contacted CNA,” a union spokeswoman said in an interview with the Free Lance.
In a press release put out Aug. 26, the board urged hospital nurses to encourage their union representatives at CNA to meet with the administration to start the fact-finding process and mediation.
“We are waiting to hear back from CNA if they are agreeing to that,” said Frankie Gallagher, director of marketing for the hospital. “Our board can direct administration to enter into it, but CNA has to agree to that as well. At this time we have not heard back from them.”
Registered Nurse Brandy Colbert said that the hospital hasn’t directly contacted any of the nurses in regards to mediation.
“It was a press release, not a promise,” she said.
The State of California Public Employment Relations Board will be in charge of the fact-finding process and mediation, should CNA agree to it. Mediation is a process where a neutral third party helps disputing parties resolve conflict through the use of communication and negotiation.
The decision to pursue mediation came after the board voted unanimously to delay the implementation of the hospital’s Last, Best, and Final Offer after listening to testimonies from registered nurses during the meeting.
“We were demanding a resolution for our extreme short staffing and adequate rest,” Colbert said.
The meeting followed a one-day strike held Aug. 24 by the CNA.
“Despite all our grievances, we’re poised and professional at the hospital,” Colbert said. “The nurses will continue to pour our love, confidence, and quality of care into our community. We don’t agree with the cuts to our profession. We’re not going to back down and we’re not going to allow our community to suffer.”