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Queen nurses vote to unionize

Napa Valley Register, 5/1/13

Nearly 500 RNs will be part of California Nurses Association

Napa Valley Register

Registered nurses at Queen of the Valley Medical Center voted by 64 percent Tuesday night to join the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United.

The RNs, who voiced a variety of concerns from safe staffing to unit closures, voted 248 to 140 to join CNA in a secret ballot election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board, according to CNA. Nearly 500 RNs at Queen of the Valley will now be represented by CNA.

CNA’s executive director, RoseAnn DeMoro, said she was not surprised by Tuesday night’s results, because many Queen of the Valley RNs have talked to CNA for years about joining the union.

“I’m very happy and proud of those nurses,” she said.

Joining the union gives nurses a “very strong voice” in fighting for patients, and it also creates a more stable workforce at the Queen, DeMoro said.

Many RNs at Queen of the Valley have had their “hearts set” on unionizing, but each year they were convinced by their employer that things would get better, DeMoro said.

Growing concerns about hospital unit closures, economic cuts, and appropriate staffing for both RNs and other hospital staff were key factors in the final decision, according to CNA.

The National Labor Relations Board must certify the election results before they become official, according to Queen of the Valley. No other unions represent employees at the hospital.

“While we await certification, the Queen remains focused on respecting the decision the majority of our Registered Nurses who voted have made about union representation,” said Walt Mickens, President and Chief Executive Officer of Queen of the Valley. “It’s time to heal and move forward together.”

Mickens added that nothing will change Queen of the Valley’s mission of improving the health and quality of life for the people of Napa.

“The entire leadership team is proud of how all of our Registered Nurses and staff have remained committed to our patients throughout this process,” said Suki Stanton, VP of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer of Queen of the Valley. “Nurses are healers. Our healing lies in our common commitment to every patient and family who comes to the Queen for care.  We will continue to respect one another’s views and unite through our shared commitment to provide a healing environment not only for our patients, but for ourselves.”

DeMoro said she isn’t anticipating any problems with the National Labor Relations Board certifying the elections results, and she expects contract negotiations to begin immediately.

CNA is a growing influence in the St. Joseph Health System, the Orange County-based hospital chain that operates Queen of the Valley. Overall, CNA now represents some 1,600 St. Joseph RNs at St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka, Petaluma Valley Hospital in Petaluma, and St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley in Southern California as well as Queen of the Valley.

“With more CNA nurses in the St. Joe's Health System, we increase our ability to advocate for our patients and the communities we serve,” said Kerry Sweeney, a St. Joseph Eureka RN.

The win also reflects CNA’s strength in Catholic hospital systems. CNA is the largest organization of Catholic hospitals nurses in the U.S., representing 16,000 Catholic hospital RNs.


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