Press Release

Registered nurses and caregivers vote overwhelmingly to ratify new contracts with Palomar Health

Two people outside hold sign "Palomar Union Workers United"

Registered nurses and caregivers at Palomar Health in North County San Diego, Calif. voted overwhelmingly, on June 23 and June 24, in favor of ratifying two new three-year contracts. The new agreements cover nearly 1,300 registered nurses and 1,700 caregivers, announced California Nurses Association (CNA) and the Caregivers and Healthcare Employees Union (CHEU) today.  

“We are very excited because these new pacts set the stage for improving conditions at Palomar,” said Susan Adams, CNA member and RN in the labor and delivery unit at Palomar Health Escondido. “They address some of our most pressing patient care concerns, such as ensuring safe staffing for the benefit of both patients and workers, protecting the health and safety of employees, and recruiting and retaining RNs and caregivers. These contracts will provide vital support in our ongoing patient advocacy efforts.”

Nurses and caregivers had been negotiating for fair contracts for more than 14 months and were prepared to strike over Palomar management’s bad-faith bargaining and numerous other egregious violations of labor law. The health care workers say that it took the threat of a massive strike to force Palomar management to the bargaining table in earnest.

Highlights include:

Health and safety: Strong health and safety language that accounts for safe staffing and the precautionary principle, which means putting safety first.

Patient care improvements: Expanded Professional Practice Committee (PPC) and Patient Care Committee (PCC) hours, where RNs and caregivers meet with management to address patient care concerns at the unit level. Palomar will hire adequate numbers of break nurses to allow RNs to safely take meal and rest breaks.

Stopped all takeaways, including efforts to undermine grievance procedures.

Successor protections: Secured strong language protecting the union contracts and members in the event of a sale or transfer.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI): Secured new DEI language with access to quarterly DEI meetings for RNs and caregivers to combat racism at work and in patient care.

Economic gains to retain experienced nurses and caregivers: Minimum wage increases of 10.25 percent over the life of the contract, ratification payment and recognition for members at the top of the scale.

Maintained pension and health care benefits.

The new pacts cover the period June 1, 2021 through July 31, 2024.

“This was a long, hard fight and our unity and faith in our collective strength carried us through,” said Marlon de la Barrera, CHEU member and Interventional Radiation Technician, at Palomar Health Escondido. “We were determined to win the contract we know is necessary to restore conditions at Palomar and we’re thrilled with the results.”

The Caregivers and Healthcare Workers Union is an affiliate of the California Nurses Association, which has 100,000 members in more than 200 facilities throughout California. CNA is an affiliate of National Nurses United, the largest and fastest-growing union and professional association of RNs in the country, with more than 175,000 members nationwide.