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Nurses Consider Strike At Washington Hospital Center

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By Sanaz Meshkinpour

Nurses at Washington Hospital Center are voting on whether to hold a 24-hour strike to protest the dismissal of nurses during last winter's major snowstorm.

After February's blizzard, the hospital fired 18 nurses for failing to get to work in the snow; others were disciplined.

"We believe it's illegal," says Stephen Frum of Nurses United.

Frum says the actions violated a hospital policy of not disciplining employees who are absent during a snow emergency. He says the hospital changed that policy unilaterally.

"They didn't give us notice that they were planning on changing it," says Frum. "Didn't give us an opportunity to discuss it prior to its implementation."

Half of the nurses who were fired were later reinstated. Dr. Janice Orlowski, a hospital administrator, says the ones who were dismissed were guilty of gross misconduct. She says the hospital made every effort to help them get to work, and they could have made it.

"Unfortunately we're dealing with a very small number who quite frankly we felt refused to do their job," says Orlowski.

Nurses United will announce the results of the strike vote Monday morning.

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