Press Release

Arizona registered nurses ratify first-ever RN union contract in the state

St. Mary's nurses rally for safe patient care
St. Mary's nurses, in Tucson, Arizona, rally for safe patient care. September 2019

RNs at St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s hospitals in Tucson make history for their patients

In a historic move, registered nurses at St. Mary’s Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tucson, Ariz. voted overwhelmingly to approve their first contract with the National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU)—which also happens to be the first contract 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. 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,” said Christine Valenzuela, an ICU registered nurse at St. Mary’s.

The three-year contract runs through May 31, 2023. Nurses say that in addition to being proud to vote yes on the first-ever RN contract 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. 
  • Ensures nurses only work in units of their clinical competence.
  • Establishes 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 two 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 contract in Arizona. 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," said Fawn Slade, a registered nurse in the orthopedic unit at St. Joseph’s.