Uploaded: Friday, July 28, 2000 11 AM

Stanford nurses vote narrowly to end strike

by Don Kazak

Union and Stanford hospital officials met today to begin planning when striking nurses will return to work after union members narrowly approved a new contract Thursday.

Of the 1,635 nurses eligible to vote on the contract, 825 voted yes. Votes against the contract were cast by 551 nurses, while 259 nurses who did not vote were counted as voting against the contract, said Kim Griffin of the Committee for Recognition of Nursing Achievement.

The nurses are likely to return to work at Stanford and Lucile Packard Children's hospitals by late next week.

CRONA nurses began their strike June 7, and the two hospitals hired some 500 replacement nurses, largely through a Denver-based nursing agency, to keep the hospitals functioning.

The settlement package, proposed by a federal mediator, includes 10 percent in pay raises over two years--12 percent for nurses with 15 years or more of seniority.

"I'm glad that it's over and we're going back to work," Griffin said. "But I really wish we could have gotten more for our junior nurses."

The union lost about 60 nurses during the strike who resigned from the union and returned to work at the two hospitals, Griffin said. Other CRONA nurses took temporary jobs at other Bay Area hospitals and clinics.

Griffin said not all CRONA members may return to work at Stanford or Packard hospitals because they are making more money in their other jobs.

"I think there are people who were waiting to see what we got," Griffin said. "I think there are nurses who will come back and resign."

Griffin added that she doesn't think the settlement package will greatly help the hospitals in recruiting and retaining nurses.

Hospital officials said they are happy the strike is over.

"We are very pleased our nurses will be back to work as an integral part of our patient-care team," said Malinda Micthell, CEO of Stanford Hospital.

"Our nurses contribute significantly to providing the quality care for which our hospitals are known," said Chris Dawes, CEO of Packard Hospital. "We look forward to their return."

Griffin said union members prefer not to work alongside any of the replacement nurses as part of any transition back to full union staffing. Hospital spokesman Matt Lash said the hospitals' goal is to have a smooth transition without any effect on patient care.