- The Washington Times - Monday, October 2, 2000


Negotiators for striking nurses and the Washington Hospital Center are expected to sit down with a federal mediator today.
Nurses and hospital officials met Saturday and were in talks until 4 a.m. yesterday.
Both sides said negotiators are making headway.
"It's a very slow process, but we can make progress," Soyoung Pak, a hospital spokeswoman, said last night.
Talks will resume at 10 a.m. today.
Gwen Johnson, president of the D.C. Nurses Association, said major issues are still on the table. The nurses want an end to forced overtime and special protections for nurses who are pregnant or breast-feeding.
Ms. Johnson said they also want special provisions for the resource nurse who assists the other nurses with complex patient-care issues. Ms. Johnson said the nurses believe the resource nurse should not have any patients of his or her own but be free to help the other nurses with their patients.
Wages also remain an issue but were not discussed during talks over the weekend, Ms. Johnson said.
The strike involving 1,300 nurses is in its second week.
Meanwhile, the hospital has brought in 600 contract nurses who are working 12-hour shifts. Nursing supervisors have remained on the job, and hospital officials said about 70 members of the nurses' union also have crossed picket lines.
The replacement nurses were flown in from Denver-based U.S. Nurses Corp. The number of patients, meanwhile, has jumped to more than 770.
The hospital has offered to boost nurses' salary and benefits by 16.5 percent, giving the nurses a package worth $70,000 a $10,000 increase over their current agreement. Nurses recently said they would lower their demands to a 16 percent pay increase down from the 22 percent to 28 percent increase they sought initially.
This is the third time negotiators have been unable to come to terms over a new three-year contract.
Staff writer Ellen Sorokin contributed to this report, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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