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St. Mary nurses ratify labor agreement

Daily Press, 6/19/13

JAMES SHANKLIN, For the Daily Press

APPLE VALLEY • After more than six months of negotiations, registered nurses at St. Joseph, St. Mary ratified a new collective bargaining agreement Wednesday, according to a news release from the California Nurses Association and National Nurses United.

Local nurses joined others at the Eureka and Petaluma locations in the St. Joseph Health system in ratifying the deal after a preliminary agreement was reached earlier this month.

“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,” said St. Joseph Health, St. Mary spokesman Randy Bevilacqua in a written statement after the preliminary deal. “As always, the focus of our clinical teams continues to be on providing high-quality, safe, compassionate care and service to our patients at all times.”

CNA officials celebrated the deal, stating in a press release that they averted substantial increases to their healthcare premiums and avoided the institution of a “wellness” program that they say would have penalized employees with chronic health issues.

The contract also ensured safe staffing ratios in the three hospitals, CNA officials said.

“Bedside nurses gained a stronger voice in maintaining safe nurse-to-patient staffing, which protects our patients and improves the care provided by our members,” said Michelle Stuebe, an RN at the Apple Valley facility and a member of the nurses’ bargaining team. “I, for one, am excited to get started.”

The previous contract expired Dec. 1. The new contract covers more than 1,100 RNs and expires on May 31, 2016.

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