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Nurses' strike at Children's Hospital over, but still no settlement

125 replacement nurses brought in to keep facility operating during 3-day work stoppage

Everything was back to normal Friday at Children's Hospital in Oakland after a three-day strike by hundreds of nurses ended Friday morning, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The strike ended at 7 a.m. Friday when the participating nurses returned to work for the day shift, hospital spokeswoman Erin Goldsmith said.

"We're back to our normal operations," Goldsmith said.

The regular nurses took over for 125 replacements, who had been brought in when the nurses started the strike Tuesday. The replacement nurses were working under the supervision of 50 to 60 managing nurses not represented by the union.

About a third of the elective surgeries scheduled while the strike was under way were postponed, but nothing else was different, Goldsmith said.

No new settlement talks have been scheduled between hospital management and the union, the California Nurses Association, but both sides said they're open to negotiation.

"We're optimistic that something will be scheduled in the next week or two," Goldsmith said.

Contract talks have been underway since before the nurses' old contract expired on July 13.

Twenty-seven bargaining sessions have been held since mid-May, 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.

Union officials said the nurses have offered to take a wage freeze in exchange for keeping the benefits the same as they were in the previous contract, but said 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.

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