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St. Rose RNs, Hayward Reach Agreement on First Contract

California Nurses Association Press Release, 5/14/14

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Registered nurses at St. Rose Hospital in Hayward have reached tentative agreement with hospital officials on their first collective bargaining agreement that includes important gains on economic security, staffing and workplace violence prevent, the California Nurses Association, National Nurses United announced today.

St. Rose was one of the last remaining non-union hospitals for RNs in the Bay Area – until St. Rose RNs voted by 91 percent to join CNA in December, 2012. CNA represents 300 RNs at St. Rose.

Earlier in 2012, the hospital contracted out management of the facility to Alecto Health which then took an aggressive hard line with the RNs in first contract talks, including demands for reductions in in the existing standards for nurses.

But through the unity of the RNs, says CNA, which included a vote by the nurses that they were prepared to strike to insist on a fair contract, the RNs won a contract settlement that they say is a huge step forward.  

Tricia Munoz, Telemetry RN and Nurse Negotiator, noted, "We have worked very hard over the past 13 months to advocate for patient care and the rights of nurses during the bargaining campaign, while taking into consideration St. Rose's unique role in not being tied to a large corporation."  She noted that St. Rose would be the only hospital left in Hayward once the nearby Kaiser Hayward vacates the city for its new facility in San Leandro. 

St. Rose RNs must still vote to ratify the agreement in membership meetings to be held later this month.

Highlights of the agreement include an across the board 4 percent pay increase for all RNs over the two years of the pact, a pay system that includes pay increases tied to years of service at the hospital not arbitrary management whim, and other economic gains, including retirement plan improvements.

Patient safety was a substantial focus of the contract talks. The nurses won language providing for improved RN staffing at the hospital, including an agreement that charge nurses who make clinical assignments will not have additional patient assignments assuring better staffing for patients.

Another key feature was adoption of a workplace violence prevention program. That concurs with growing statewide concern over workplace violence heightened by several prominent incidents, including the recent stabbing of two RNs at Los Angeles hospitals, and shootings around two West Bay hospitals.

CNA is also proposing legislation, SB 1299, to direct the state Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board to adopt standards requiring all hospitals to establish workplace violence prevention plans to protect health care workers and other facility personnel from aggressive and violent behavior, and document and report incidents of violence to Cal-OSHA. The bill is awaiting action in Assembly Appropriations.

As an independent hospital, St. Rose is also one of the last of a dying breed in an industry where most hospitals have now been merged into large corporate chains, and has faced questions about its future in providing patient care, especially for many of the low income community residents who depend on St. Rose, which provides care for up to 15 percent of the most indigent residents of Alameda County.

NNU, of which CNA is a founding member, is also the nation’s largest organization of nurses, with 185,000 members across the U.S., and also one of the fastest growing unions in the country. Over the past three years, NNU has won representation elections for more than 14,000 RNs at 39 hospitals in 11 states.

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