Nurses picket University of Kansas Hospital

11/12/2013 5:10 PM

11/13/2013 10:38 PM

Nurses at the University of Kansas Hospital picketed the hospital on Tuesday in connection with a rejected contract offer that would have involved pay cuts.

The nurses are represented by the Kansas University Nurses Association, affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO.

Union leaders said in a statement the pay cuts would be unfair at a time when the hospital’s patient revenue “has grown by leaps and bounds, and its financial outlook is strong.”

Hospital chief executive Bob Page said the hospital was trying to be more efficient and “take costs out of the system” in an “even-handed way across the organization” without having staff reductions that other hospitals have had.

The hospital offered a 2 percent pay raise but reduced the premium differential, a pay add-on for those who commit to working a night or weekend shift for all shifts.

Emily Harvey, president of the nurses’ association, said the union represents about 1,400 registered nurses and licensed practical nurses at KU Hospital. The union has been bargaining with the hospital since July. Representatives said the proposed pay cuts would lower the hospital’s standards of care and attractiveness to nursing staff.

The hospital said 252 nurses voted among about 450 dues-paying members eligible to vote. It said 1,414 nurses are represented by the union among 2,400 total nurses working at the hospital.

Page said contract negotiations haven’t been as productive as under previous union leadership. He said he was disappointed that picketing was chosen as a disruptive tactic.

A declaration of impasse was filed with the Kansas Public Employee Relations Board, and mediation is a likely outcome.

The nurses are barred by law from striking.

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