Historic first contracts for Tucson nurses

Submitted by ADonahue on
Large group of nurses outside hold signs "Standing for our patients"

Staff report

National Nurse Magazine - July | Aug | Sept 2020 Issue

Registered nurses at St. Mary’s Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tucson, Ariz. voted overwhelmingly in July to approve their first contracts with the National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU), a move that made history as the first collective bargaining contracts ever for registered nurses in the state of Arizona.

“This contract is a culmination of all the collective actions and the union strength of our nurses,” said Christine Valenzuela, an ICU registered nurse at St. Mary’s. “What we have achieved here will give nurses at St. Joseph’s and St. Mary’s a voice in patient care and working conditions moving forward.”

The three-year contracts at these two Tenet Healthcare facilities will run through May 31, 2023. Nurses say that in addition to being proud to vote yes on the first-ever RN contracts in the state, they feel good about negotiating the important safe patient care protections during Covid-19.
Contract features include:

  • A voice for nurses on personal protective equipment (PPE), optimal patient handling, lift equipment, and communicable disease issues, helping them advocate for their patients.
  • A professional practice committee (PPC) made up of bedside nurses from units throughout the hospital who meet monthly to discuss optimal patient care and nursing practice.
  • Rest between shifts of at least eight hours to ensure nurses are able to give high-quality care.
  • Provisions to ensure nurses only work in units of their clinical competence.
  • Establishment of a fair and transparent wage increase and wage scales for new hires to ensure recruitment and retention of experienced nurses. Nurses will receive increases of 2 percent a year for the next two years on top of any increases already received earlier this year.
  • Staffing protections to ensure the hospital is in compliance with its staffing matrix.

“We are excited to be able to achieve the things we did in the first RN contracts in Arizona,” said Fawn Slade, a registered nurse in the orthopedic unit at St. Joseph’s. “Our NNOC/NNU agreement will help us recruit and retain qualified nurses and be able provide optimal patient care. Having this agreement now is even more important for nurses during this pandemic; we have the protections and the ability to voice our concerns when it comes to patient care.”