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Health Care Employees CNA, Sutter Reach Agreement for California Pacific, St. Luke’s Nurses

BNA, 3/29/13

SAN FRANCISCO—Registered nurses who are members of the California Nurses Association will vote in April on a new 34-month proposed contract with California Pacific Medical Center that includes a 6 percent wage increase and guaranteed meal and rest breaks, the union announced March 27.
The tentative agreement would replace the last pact, which expired in June 2007, and would put nurses at the Sutter Health-owned CPMC California campus and St. Luke's Hospital under one collective bargaining agreement. The proposal covers some 800 registered nurses and includes safe patient handling provisions to stem patient falls and injuries to patients and nurses.
The agreement also would require the employer to provide for meal and rest breaks. “We feel good about this contract. We think it meets our highest standards,” said Fernando Losada, CNA California collective bargaining director. “Particularly this issue of meal and break coverage puts it on the top tier of contracts in terms of nursing practice and patient safety. That is a key provision that does not exist in all California contracts,” Losada told BNA.
The staffing matrices need to reflect providing required meal and rest breaks while covering the nurse staffing ratio, “so there has be somebody assigned to cover that.” Losada said.
RNs will vote on the contract, which runs from the date of ratification to Dec. 31, 2015, during the first week of April, said Joanne Jung, CNA Sutter division director.
A CPMC representative could not be reached for comment March 27.
Long Battles
The tentative contract comes after protracted labor fights at the Sutter-owned hospitals. CNA has had seven strikes at San Francisco Bay Area hospitals, including a Christmas Eve strike over staffing and mental health care cuts.
However, CNA has not struck CPMC since negotiations resumed last June, said Losada. ‘‘Bargaining had been stalled completely for quite a bit of time,” Losada told BNA.
Members of the CNA-affiliated National Union of Healthcare Workers on March 13 ratified their first contract with CPMC covering workers at three campuses (55 DLR A-10, 3/21/13).
New Hospitals
The agreement comes after a long battle with Sutter, San Francisco, and the unions over building two new seismically safe hospitals including a 120-bed facility next to the existing St. Luke's and a new hospital on Cathedral Hill.
“The process has been tumultuous but in the end we had a vision and we were successful in performing the ultimate in patient advocacy—saving St Luke's,” Jane Sandoval, a St. Luke's RN and CNA board member, said in a statement.
“The whole Cathedral Hill project added complexity,” Losada said. The question of what happens to nurses when Sutter closes the older structures and move much of the operations to Cathedral Hill was “an overarching theme,” he said, and was “one of the reasons the contract remained unresolved for so long.”

All RNs will receive across-the-board increases under the contract of 2 percent each October. St. Luke's nurses also will receive longevity pay based on years of service in the San Francisco hospitals, at other Sutter facilities, and foreign nursing experience, which Jung said equals $500 for every five years' service.
Nurses will receive education leave for taking online continuing professional education courses. Jung said online learning has become “pretty customary” and “many of the contracts have shifted so that now the pay is accessible for these online courses.”
CNA now has contracts with Sutter hospitals at: Mills-Peninsula in Burlingame and San Mateo; Sutter Santa Rosa; Sutter Lakeside in Lakeport; and Sutter VNA in Santa Cruz. Negotiations continue for contracts at Alta Bates Summit in Berkeley and Oakland; Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley and San Leandro; Sutter Delta in Antioch; Sutter Solano in Vallejo; and Sutter Novato.
“We really hope that this can provide a framework for settlement at the other Sutter facilities and we hope that Sutter corporate management will see it that way,” Losada said.

CPMC spokesman Dean Fryer confirmed March 27 that a tentative agreement was reached, but declined to comment pending ratification.

By Joyce E. Cutler

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