It was bad when Washington Hospital Center fired 18 nurses during last winter's snowstorms. It got worse when the nurses' union and management failed to agree on a new contract over the summer. Then, last week, the hospital effectively cut take-home pay for most nurses. As WHC nurses voted overwhelmingly Tuesday night to join the largest nurses' union in the nation, labor relations at the area's biggest hospital were tense.
"People are really angry," said one veteran nurse, referring to how hospital officials forced through a plan that increases base pay but cuts shift pay for working evenings, nights and weekends.