Uploaded: Thursday, July 06, 2000 3:30 PM

Nurses lower salary proposal, but impasse continues

by Don Kazak

With the nurses' union reducing its salary request by 2.5 percent, negotiations resumed this morning in the month-old strike against Stanford and Lucile Packard Children's hospitals.

"We're back at the table this morning," said Kim Griffin, spokeswoman for the Committee for Recognition of Nursing Achievement, the nurses' union. "We'll see if they want to do anything."

Hospital officials said the new offer is still too expensive. "The hospitals have some limited flexibility about wages," said hospital spokesman Ben Drew. "But their proposal wasn't close to where our flexibility lies, so there wasn't any point in making a counteroffer."

CRONA is now asking for 15 percent in pay raises over two years, compared to its previous position of 17.5 percent. The two hospitals are offering 8 percent in raises over two years.

There are also health benefit, staffing and other issues on the table.

The strike began June 7. Of the 1,730 CRONA nurses, about 40 have crossed picket lines to return to work at the hospitals. Those nurses could be subject to CRONA fines once the strike is over.

The hospitals have hired about 500 replacement nurses to keep the hospitals functioning. Many of the CRONA nurses, meanwhile, are temporarily working at other Bay Area hospitals.