After emotional testimony from Maui Well being workers about low wages and lengthy hours, some council members Friday mentioned the state ought to re-evaluate whether or not Kaiser Permanente is provided to proceed managing Maui County hospitals.
Almost 500 workers left their posts Feb. 22 at Maui Memorial Medical Heart, Kula Hospital and Lana’i Neighborhood Hospital to strike over honest wages and affordable working situations. The group hospitals are affiliated with Kaiser.
“When Kaiser took over administration of our hospitals, they promised the state that they would offer high quality affected person care — nonetheless their actions to underneath pay medical workers is opposite to that promise,” Council Member Shane Sinenci mentioned. “The state ought to reassess, re-evaluate on the contract with Kaiser with a view to higher serve our kūpuna, our sufferers and our residents.”
Others council members, together with Tamara Paltin, Yuki Lei Sugimura and Tasha Kama, mentioned they should meet with state legislators with a view to urge reform for Maui hospitals.
“It’s a disgrace it’s come up to now on Maui,” Paltin mentioned. “It’s principally within the palms of the state to control the hospital. We should always meet up with the state reps and legislators. Sufficient is sufficient already with what they received occurring over there.”
Maui County Council in a 9-0 vote Friday adopted a decision to help Maui County well being care staff and urge Maui Well being System to resolve an ongoing labor dispute. Launched by Council Member Gabe Johnson, the decision doesn’t have the pressure and impact of regulation, nevertheless it does ship a message to state and county officers, together with hospital leaders.
“Keep robust, brothers and sisters,” Johnson mentioned earlier than the vote. “The automobile doesn’t go with out the gasoline and the employees are the gasoline in that financial pay engine. No gasoline, no go. No staff, no go. Please stand robust on the picket line.”
Regardless of Hawaiʻi having the very best value of residing within the nation, some Maui Well being staff testified Friday that they had been making extra money for a similar job in California.
A current report by ConsumerAffairs mentioned that Hawaiʻi has the very best value of residing within the U.S. primarily based on housing and rental prices; utility, meals and gasoline costs; and tax charges.
Allen Moreno, Maui Well being ICU nurseʻs aide, testified that he was making $31.67 for Kaiser in Santa Clara. When he moved to Maui Well being in 2018, he was employed at $16.32. Now, he doesn’t make greater than $21 an hour, and lots of the staff on strike received’t get out of the vary of $20-something.
“What they’re asking us to take is maintaining us at poverty stage,” he mentioned.
Heidi Ruf, a Maui Well being anesthesia tech, moved from California to Maui in 2020. At her previous job as an anesthesia tech, she received paid $30 an hour. She began at Maui Well being at $19 per hour and is now at $23.80 an hour.
Thomas Pratt, a Maui Well being nurse, mentioned he labored at Stanford in California and was getting paid $160,000 a 12 months. He selected a job on Maui for underneath $80,000 due to the standard of the nurses’ aides. However issues modified when Kaiser took over, he mentioned.
“Impulsively, the assistance left,” he mentioned. “They didn’t pay them.”
Pratt mentioned the disaster at Maui’s solely acute-care hospital is being ignored.
“We’re operating over capability on a regular basis, so if you find yourself within the hospital, and also you’re sitting there ready and ready and ready — days within the emergency room, ready for a mattress — it’s as a result of no one’s doing something about this,” he mentioned.
Represented by United Public Employees, AFSCME Native 646, AFL-CIO, the Maui Well being workers on strike embrace nurses aides, respiratory therapists, emergency room technicians, upkeep staff, transporters, housekeepers, cooks, dietitians and others.
Maui Well being on Friday night mentioned UPW bargaining groups and Maui Well being representatives met earlier within the day for negotiations facilitated by a federal mediator.
“At present’s session was organized by Maui Well being as an extra negotiations date after the March 6 session, to make sure these necessary discussions may proceed with minimal delay,” a Maui Well being spokesperson mentioned.
The following talks are slated March 14, and Maui Well being mentioned it’s dedicated to bargaining in good religion and is hopeful an settlement might be reached quickly.
In a Maui Information commercial, Maui Well being’s new interim CEO Kerry Watson mentioned Maui Well being and the union have bargained over 9 months, and tentative agreements had been reached — just for union members to vote them down.
Within the Final, Finest and Last provide, which was promoted by union leaders however rejected by union members, enhancements included wage changes for each member throughout all union job classes, three further will increase over three years, the primary being paid out throughout the first six months.
“It represented a median compound wage improve of 13.9% throughout all job classifications, with many receiving a bigger wage improve,” Watson mentioned within the advert. “Moreover, all UPW members would obtain a bonus inside 30 days of ratification, plus vital will increase to night and evening shift differential pay.”
Though the tentative settlement was supported by union leaders, the settlement was voted down Feb. 21 and the strike began the subsequent day.
Watson within the lengthly letter combats “false and deceptive data” in regards to the hospital that hurts folks on all sides.
“We’re doing every part we are able to to deliver our UPW-represented workforce members again to work,” Watson mentioned. “Please present your help for our healthcare staff which might be caring for our family members on the frontline, in addition to our brothers and sisters on the picket line. No matter union affiliation, we’re all related, we’re all household, and that’s what makes this group so particular.”