Uploaded: Wednesday, June 28, 2000 2:30 PM

Stanford hospitals decline to resume strike talks

by Don Kazak

Hospital negotiators declined a request by the nurses' union to resume talks today as the strike by 1,730 Stanford and Lucile Packard Children's hospital nurses entered its fourth week.

The hospitals and nurses are far apart on economic issues, with the hospitals proposing 8 percent in raises over two years and the union seeking 17.5 percent.

The union is claiming that their negotiators were told Friday that the 8 percent offer is the hospitals' final position.

"The hospitals feel they have put forward a very fair and competitive offer," said hospitals spokesman Ben Drew. "The offer stands. No new offer is forthcoming."

Drew said that under the 8 percent offer, beginning nurses working full time would earn $57,000 a year, the most experienced nurses would earn $84,000, and the average nurse would receive $75,000.

No new contract sessions have been scheduled.

About 20 nurses have crossed the picket line to join about 500 replacement nurses in working shifts in the two hospitals.

"We don't like that," said Kim Griffin, spokeswoman for the Committee for Recognition of Nursing Achievement. "They have their own reasons for doing that."

Griffin said the CRONA nurses who returned to work could be subject to fines from the union. "We'll decide that after we go back to work," she said.

Because the union doesn't have a strike fund, the striking nurses aren't receiving any kind of stipend. But given a regional shortage of nurses, no one who needs a paycheck is having trouble finding work, Griffin said. "We have (CRONA) nurses working in hospitals all over the Bay Area," she said.

Despite the length of the strike, the nurses' spirits remain high, Griffin said. "We had a membership meeting (Monday), and they were very supportive," Griffin said.