UC RNs Welcome New 4-Year Pact Protecting Retirement Security, Stopping Concession Demands
California Nurses Association Press Release, 11/18/13
RNs Also Win Major Gains – 16% Increase Over 4 Years
At a time of increasing employer demands for sweeping concessions on retirement security, especially for public workers, registered nurses working at University of California hospitals and student health centers today welcomed a tentative pact with University officials that secures nurses’ retirement as well as achieving important gains.
In addition to rebuffing UC demands for substantial cuts in in pensions and retiree health coverage for RNs – especially a demand for a two-tier proposal with huge cuts in pensions for newly hired RNs – the nurses also won significant improvements, including across the board pay increases of 16 percent over four years, plus up to 8 percent more in longevity steps for most RNs.
The pact covers 12,000 RNs at major UC medical centers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento (UC Davis), San Diego, and Irvine, as well as UC student health centers in Berkeley, Merced, Riverside, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz.
This is the third major settlement for CNA/NNU since August following agreements earlier this year with Sutter Health and Dignity Health hospitals protecting standards for over 27,000 California and Nevada RNs. Among the achievements of the various pacts – reversing concessionary spirals seen for far too many workers, protecting retirement security and achieving breakthrough patient care and other gains.
With the UC agreement, which must be approved by the RNs in membership meetings expected to begin later this week, the RNs, represented by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, have withdrawn a sympathy strike notice for a planned strike by other UC workers this Wednesday. Off-duty RNs will join picket lines by other unions, and today urged UC to reach fair agreements for other staff.
Under the settlement, UC RNs will continue to receive guaranteed UC pension benefits as well as maintaining their current UC-sponsored health coverage upon retirement, including early retirement, with levels of benefits based on age and years of service.
“This is a contract we can be proud of – no takeaways, no two-tier pension, and some real gains that will aid our fight for the highest standard of patient care into the future,” said CNA board member Janice Webb, RN at UC San Diego and chair of CNA’s UC Statewide Bargaining Council.
“The unity and militancy of UC nurses was the key to maintaining our single-tier pension,” said Tam Nguyen, RN at UC Irvine campus and a CNA board member. “We fight for our patients and for our profession, including the next generation.”
“This fight was about UC keeping it’s promises to all current employees, and for equal pension benefits for those yet to come. We’re proud to have set a standard that we hope other UC workers will be able to achieve as well,” said Shirley Toy, RN at UC Davis medical center in Sacramento.
“Nurses are the heart of patient care, and we have to ensure that all nurses are treated fairly. With this contract, we are able to move forward with that,” said Manny Punzalan, RN at UCLA Medical Center.
“We were able to reach this agreement because we beat back UC’s takeaway proposals. We maintained our pension not just for ourselves, but for the future nurses who will taking of us one day,” said Erin Carrera, RN at UCSF Medical Center.
In addition to protecting retirement security for the RNs, the agreement contains significant economic improvements – annual 4 percent pay increases for all UC RNs, with most RNs eligible for up to 2 percent more each year based on years of service.
The pact also strengthens UC patient care measures in several areas, including re-committing the University to provide lift teams for UC hospital patients to prevent patient falls and accidents and injuries to RNs. It also assures CNA-represented RNs will select their direct care RNs to hospital committees that review and update patient classification systems which determine if RN staffing needs to be increased based on the severity of individual patient illness.
“The new UC-CNA contract provides a model for the efforts of working people across America to retire with dignity and protect retiree healthcare and also provides a pattern for other UC union contracts to follow,” said CNA Co-president Malinda Markowitz, RN.