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Nurses reach tentative labor agreement

Victorville Daily Press, 6/7/13

Rene De La Cruz

APPLE VALLEY • Registered nurses reached a tentative labor deal with St. Joseph Health, St. Mary, according to a news release from the California Nurses Association on Thursday.

RNs say the new collective bargaining agreement will protect RN-to-patient ratios in the Apple Valley hospital while also preventing increases in the cost of nurses’ health care coverage.

“We made major improvements to our contract and gave nurses the tools to advocate for their practice and their patients,” said Ron Herron, a critical care RN at St. Mary, in a prepared statement. “We maintained affordable health care benefits which are critical to attracting nurses to our growing community hospital.”

The agreement, which was reached Wednesday night between nurses and hospital negotiators, must still be ratified by the RNs who will vote on the proposals in membership meetings next week.

Attempts to reach St. Joseph Health, St. Mary officials were not immediately successful Thursday afternoon.

Herron said the nurses’ 11 percent share of cost for health premiums was projected to jump to 19.1.

“It’s a big jump, not incrementally over time, so needless to say the nurses were not happy about that,” Herron said in a phone interview Thursday. “We were able to negotiate the figure down to 15.1 percent.”

The new contract, which covers more than 1,100 RNs at St. Joseph Health System medical centers in Eureka and Petaluma as well, will expire in May 2016.

Rene De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227 or at RDeLaCruz@VVDailyPress.com.

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