Nurses employed at Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu and represented by the Hawai'i Nurses' Association/OPEIU Local 50 stood together in solidarity and ratified a new contract that provides a $1,000 signing bonus, a certification bonus, a certification differential commencing in the second year, significant shift differential increases and an 8 percent wage increase during the life of three-year agreement.
“This is one of the best contracts we’ve achieved in a very long time, with no givebacks and significant improvements, and it was all done just prior to the worst COVID-19 surge we’ve experienced throughout the pandemic,” said Local 50 President Dan Ross, who also serves as an OPEIU vice president. “Our hospitals and our nurses are being pushed to their limits, with politicians and hospitals showing more concern for profits than people, but our union fights on and our membership remains united.”
Ross notes the union made it a top priority to secure monetary recognition of all the nurses have done during the pandemic, when they’ve been short-staffed and overworked. “These were extraordinary times with COVID and a whopping five percent inflation,” Ross noted. “We wanted to ensure our nurses received a raise to meet the rate of inflation.”
The union also fought attacks on the nurses’ pension, defeating management’s efforts to replace the defined pension benefit with a 401(k). “The contract contains no concessions or givebacks, and we were able to correct and improve much of the language regarding breaks and holiday paid-time off, while increasing tuition reimbursement, maternity leave and other significant improvements,” Ross said.
Local 50 initiated a “Paint it Black” contract campaign that engaged nurses at Queen’s, as well as sister bargaining units at Straub and Kapi’olani medical centers in Honolulu. Several physician colleagues stood with the nurses as well.