More than 1,600 registered nurses at the 900-bed Washington Hospital Center, the largest non-profit hospital in the Washington, DC, area, prepared Friday to vote over the weekend on whether to go on strike. At issue is the hospital's decision last winter to fire 18 nurses and discipline several more following severe snow storms in the region.
Following a membership meeting on Thursday, the nurses prepared for onsite voting throughout the weekend on whether they would stage a one-day work stoppage. The action coincides with the arrival of a new president (John Sullivan) this week, and the recent departure of the hospital's senior vice president for human resources and the chief nursing officer.
"It is long past time for the hospital to right these wrongs," says Dottie Hararas, RN, president of Nurses United of the National Capital Region.
The nurses union is asking that the dismissed nurses be brought back. If that were to occur, the strike would be cancelled, they said.
If the nurses vote to strike, they would stop work on a selected date for a 24-hour period. The result of the nurses' one-day strike vote is expected to be announced Monday.
At issue are registered nurses who were dismissed and disciplined in February and March after they failed to report to work during multiple blizzards in February that shut down area governments and businesses for more than a week. Hospital officials said at the time that they provided transportation for the nurses and also alerted staff beforehand that they should make accommodations—such as staying at the hospital—when the storm hit.