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1,000 Strike at R.I. Hospital

February 27, 1999

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ A one-day strike by health workers at a Rhode Island hospital began today after negotiations over a labor contract broke down.

Union organizer Pamela Chandran said about 1,100 workers, including nurses and medical technicians, would miss work today at Women & Infants Hospital, which caters to pregnant women and has a large ward for neonatal intensive care.

Negotiations between hospital management and members of the New England Health Care Employees Union broke off Friday night, Chandran said.

``Hopefully this will push management toward reaching a contract agreement,″ she said of the strike, adding that workers would return Sunday morning.

Dan Kinder, an attorney for the hospital, said the facility would continue to care for patients today.

``The hospital will operate Saturday and all essential services will remain, but it’s a very difficult thing for a health care institution to sustain a series of hit-and-run strikes like this one,″ he said.

The hospital workers are seeking improved overtime pay, benefits and job security.

Kinder said the hospital has promised that no union workers will be laid off even if a proposed merger of the hospital is approved.

Women & Infants workers returned from a month-long lockout Jan. 20 and have been working under a wage freeze and reduced overtime pay, conditions the union claims violate the law.

Kinder said the hospital had agreed to lift the interim work rules.

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