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St. Joseph nurses reach tentative collective bargaining agreement

Eureka Times Standard, 6/7/13

St. Joseph nurses reach tentative collective bargaining agreement
Registered nurses at St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka, along with nurses from St. Joseph Health System medical centers in Apple Valley and Petaluma, announced on Thursday a tentative settlement with hospital officials on a new collective bargaining agreement.

Susan Johnson, a registered nurse in St. Joseph's labor and delivery unit, said, in a press release from the California Nurses Association, that language improvements under the new agreement will create safer staffing conditions for both nurses and patients.

Nurses at all three locations said the agreement will bring significant improvements in patient care protections, as well as health care security for nurses, the release states.

As part of the new agreement, according to the release, nurses won improved nurse-to-patient staffing ratios, which will allow nurses to provide a safer level of care to patients. The agreement also avoided substantial health care premium increases and secured the removal of a “punitive” wellness program, the release states. According to the CNA, a study released Wednesday documents that wellness programs fail to provide promised savings, while penalizing employees with chronic health problems.

The new contracts also work to reduce long-standing economic disparities between registered nurses at St. Joseph Health System facilities across California, the release states.

The agreement, reached between nurse and hospital negotiators Wednesday night, must still be ratified by registered nurses. Votes on the proposals are expected to be held next week during membership meetings. The new contracts, which cover more than 1,100 registered nurses, will expire on May 31, 2016.

In a released statement, St. Joseph Hospital Interim President David O'Brien wrote the focus of the clinical teams is to provide high-quality, safe, compassionate care and service to their patients.

”We are extremely pleased that the bargaining teams for the CNA union and our hospital have reached agreement on a new contract with our valued nurses,” O'Brien wrote. “We look forward to the contract being ratified by our nurses in the coming weeks.”

Catherine Wong contributed to this report.

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