RNs Reach Tentative Agreements at St. Joseph Hospitals in Apple Valley, Eureka and Petaluma
Gains for patient care, healthcare security for nurses
Registered nurses at three St. Joseph Health System (SJHS) medical centers have achieved a tentative settlement with hospital officials on a new collective bargaining agreement that nurses say will bring significant improvements in patient care protections and healthcare security for nurses.
The agreement between nurse and hospital negotiators, reached late Wednesday night, must still be ratified by the RNs who will vote on the proposals in membership meetings expected to be held next week. The new contracts which cover more than 1,100 RNs expire on May 31, 2016.
Nurses won improved RN-to-patient safe staffing ratio language, successfully fought off substantial increases to their healthcare premiums, and secured removal of a punitive “wellness” program (a study just released yesterday documented that wellness programs fail to provide promised savings while penalizing employees who may have chronic health problems).
The contracts also provide for the initiation of steps to lower the longstanding economic disparities that exist among RNs at SJHS facilities across California.
Additionally, Petaluma Valley RNs succeeded in backing hospital management off of several key takeaway demands, including on-call pay reductions and reduced night shift differential pay, which if enacted would have put the facility below community standards for area hospitals, and undermined the retention and recruitment of experienced nurses.
Quotes from RNs:
Petaluma: "Our new contract protects nurses, patients, and our practice,” said Anna Bruno, a surgical RN at Petaluma Valley Hospital. “We successfully fought takeaways in economics and healthcare, and strengthened our ability to fight for safer staffing for our patients. This contract is a win for our nurses and for our community."
Eureka: "We established a statewide joint staffing committee that will involve nurses from all three CNA/NNU represented hospitals,” said Susan Johnson, RN, who works in labor and delivery at St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka. “This empowers us to improve staffing throughout SJHS statewide. In Eureka, we made improvements to language that will create safer staffing conditions for nurses and patients."
Apple Valley: "We made major improvements to our contract and gave nurses the tools to advocate for their practice and their patients,” said Ron Herron, a critical care RN at St. Mary's Medical Center in Apple Valley. “We maintained affordable healthcare benefits which are critical to attracting nurses to our growing community hospital."
CNA/NNU is a growing influence in the St. Joseph Health System, an Orange County-based hospital chain, representing some 1,600 St. Joseph RNs at St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka, Petaluma Valley Hospital in Petaluma, and St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley, as well as Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa where RNs voted to join CNA last month.