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Hospital Workers Decide To Stay Off Job Amid Charges

August 23, 1988

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ About 1,700 service workers at six hospitals have refused to return to work, claiming that hospital officials engaged in bad-faith bargaining and union busting.

However, a spokesman for the hospitals said the two sides had an ″honest disagreement.″

Leaders of Local 250 of the Hospital and Health Care Workers Union said Monday the hospitals violated a back-to-work agreement signed last week. They said they will remain off the job until the issue is resolved.

The union complained that personnel directors of the hospitals represented by Affiliated Hospitals of San Francisco offered individual union members the opportunity to return to work before the general recall if they dropped their union membership.

In addition, they said workers who crossed the picket line during the 3- week-old strike were offered greater seniority.

″They have violated the basic return-to-work agreement,″ said Mark Splain, the spokesman for the union. ″We cannot go back (to work) until these issues are settled.″

Local 250 had planned to announce Monday that its members would return to their jobs at the six hospitals in San Francisco and Daly City, crossing picket lines set up by the California Nurses Association.

The 2,200 striking registered nurses gave the service employees approval to cross the lines, although no negotiations were scheduled in the nurses’ 4- week-old strike.

The service workers include janitors, some technicians, dietary workers, licensed vocational nurses and others.

Laurence Arnold, attorney for Affiliated Hospitals, disagreed with the union’s charges.

Arnold said the hospitals and the union have ″an honest disagreement over the interpretation of the back-to-work agreement ... but no one is trying to break their union.″

Employees who worked during the strike can be guaranteed their position over those who struck, if fewer positions are available because the number of patients drops, Arnold said.

He added that union members who want to return to work may do so without dropping their union membership.

The service workers voted last Monday to ratify a contract ending Local 250′s strike, but they remained off the job in support of the nurses.

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