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3-day strike at Children's Hospital in final day

'Everything at the hospital is going just fine,' hospital spokeswoman says

A three-day strike by hundreds of nurses at Children's Hospital in Oakland is in its last day, but no settlement is imminent between the two sides, a hospital spokeswoman said today.

The strike ends at 7 a.m. Friday, when the participating nurses will return to work, hospital spokeswoman Erin Goldsmith said.

The nurses plan to picket outside the hospital all daytoday, said Nato Green, spokesman for the California Nurses Association, the union that represents the striking nurses.

Goldsmith said everything has gone smoothly during the strike. About a third of the elective surgeries scheduled while the strike was under way were postponed, but nothing else has changed, she said.

The hospital brought in 125 replacement workers who are working under the supervision of 50 to 60 managing nurses not represented by the union.

Those replacement workers will leave when the striking nurses return at 7 a.m. Friday, Goldsmith said.

No new settlement talks have been scheduled between hospital management and the union. The last time the two sides met was Sept. 29, according to Green.

Contract talks have been under way since before the nurses' old contract expired July 13. Since mid-May, there have been 27 bargaining sessions but the sides have been unable to arrive at an agreement.

A federal mediator intervened and worked with them through

September, but still no agreement was reached, Goldsmith said.

Hospital management's proposals have included cuts to employee health care benefits. Green said the union has offered to take a wage freeze in exchange for keeping the benefits the same as they were in the previous contract, but that the hospital has not formally responded to their proposal.

Goldsmith said earlier this week that the union has refused to even look at the hospital's counter-offer because it didn't include changes in earlier health care benefit offers.

Both sides, however, said they're open to negotiation and would like to return to the bargaining table.

"Once the strike's done we'll get something planned," Goldsmith said.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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