The strike is off, at least for now.
More than 350 workers at Olympic Memorial Hospital had planned to participate in an 18-hour strike on Aug. 11, but at the request of OMC management a Kitsap judge has issued a restraining order against the workers.
Superior Court Judge M. Karlynn Haberleygranted Olympic Medical Center’s application for a 14-day temporary restraining order against SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, stating: “The Court agrees with Plaintiff’s analysis, that the individual defendants are public employees, that the hospital is a public employer, and that the Defendants’ threatened strike is illegal.”
Union workers had argued that because their contract with OMC has expired its provisions outlawing strikes had similarly expired.
The court action allowed Olympic Medical to call off its order to a national temporary employment agency for 150 replacement health care workers. Cost estimates to temporarily staff the hospital during the 18-hour strike reached $600,000.
In issuing its order, the Court found that if SEIU members were allowed to strike, the hospital district would “suffer actual and substantial injury.”
“We are pleased with the Court’s decision on this matter, as it protects our patients,” said OMC CEO Eric Lewis.
“We value our nursing staff, service workers and dietary workers who are represented by SEIU, and we look forward to continuing good-faith negotiations with these groups.”
Linda Bryant, a nurse at Olympic Medical Center, responded for the union, saying the organization “intends to comply with Judge Haberly’s temporary restraining order issued today in enjoining OMC members from proceeding with the August 11, 2011 strike.”
She added, “We disagree with the judge’s order and think it does not recognize our rights to stand for quality care for all families. Our primary goal has always been to settle a fair contract and ensure health care access for everyone. We (will) return to the bargaining table ... and we will be at the table for as long as it takes to resolve issues of affordable family health care and guaranteed staffing minimums that we believe will keep our patients safe.”
The two sides were expected to meet this morning for further negotiations.