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Nurses Reach Tentative Agreement With Keck Hospital of USC, USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center

California Nurses Association Press Release, 5/10/17

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Registered nurses at Keck Hospital of the University of Southern California (USC) and USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, have reached a tentative agreement on a four-year contract that secures important patient protections, helps recruit and retain experienced nurses, and provides critical educational opportunities for nurses, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU) announced today.

RNs will vote on the contract, which would cover around 1,110 nurses at the USC facilities, Thursday, May 11 and Friday, May 12.

“I have been an RN for 40 years and at USC Keck for 26 years, and it feels great to celebrate Nurses Week with a contract that lifts the standards for our profession,” said Operating Room RN Maria Salazar—referring to the timing of the agreement aligning with the May 6-12 national week honoring nurses.

“Our contract is a testament to the importance of having a strong union,” said Intensive Care Unit RN Allysha Shin. “In light of today's political climate, it is more crucial now to have strong worker protections.”

Contract highlights include:

Support for nurses, leading to enhanced patient care. The new contract includes additional “resource nurses,” who are scheduled as backup/assistance for RNs in the event of an influx of severely injured or ill patients. Meal and break language also ensures that nurses have adequate rest, critical to reducing the threat of fatigue, which can lead to accidents and other harm for patients. Additionally, the agreement states that lead nurses will not have a patient assignment, so they can perform their duties in support of their fellow RNs.

Economic gains to help with recruitment and retention. With across the board wage increases of at least 15 percent, with more based on years of experience, Keck and Norris will now have some of the most competitive wages in the region, helping to attract the most experienced nurses to care for patients and the community served by the hospitals.

Critical educational opportunities. The agreement includes continuing education opportunities for nurses and reimbursement for conferences and seminars.

Important union protections. With the ongoing growth of Keck Hospital and Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, nurses say they are pleased that even if RNs are shifted to new buildings within the larger campus, the new contract will protect their union and contract rights—allowing them to continue advocating for their patients.

Workplace violence protections. Nurses laud the current contract’s compliance with a nation-leading CNA-sponsored workplace violence law and new regulations stating that all hospitals must adopt a workplace violence prevention plan, with staff training and other steps to reduce the danger of violence for employees, patients, patient families, and visitors.

No takeaways to health benefits, expanded life insurance. Nurses will be able to keep their health benefits and will also receive expanded life insurance.

“With the current attempts to roll back healthcare, I'm proud that our contract ensures that we will retain our medical coverage for the next four years,” said Shin.

“I'm extremely happy for our USC nurses, as this is a testament of our unity, especially during times of political change and uncertainty,” said ICU RN Rudy Cuellar. “This contract will improve the overall nursing care satisfaction and will enhance RN retention and recruiting.”

California Nurses Association represents nearly 100,000 nurses statewide and is part of National Nurses United, the largest union of registered nurses in the country.

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