San Bernardino Nurses Reach Tentative Contract Agreement to Strengthen Safe Patient Care
San Bernardino County nurses have reached a tentative new contract agreement, which RNs say will stem the loss of experienced nurses to other hospitals in the region, and improve patient care conditions—to the benefit of the community for years to come, the California Nurses Association (CNA) announced today.
The contract, to be voted on in membership meetings on Tuesday, February 6 and Wednesday, February 7, would cover 1300 County nurses and run for 3.5 years.
“San Bernardino County nurses are thrilled that we stood strong together to reach this agreement,” said Alex Lehnhof, RN. “The features we fought to include address issues that have caused nearly 200 nurses to leave County hospitals each year for the past three years. We’re so proud the County heard our collective voice and came to the table because our patients deserve experienced nurses, and our nurses deserve safe working conditions.”
Contract highlights include:
- Economic gains to improve nurse recruitment and retention: Minimum across the board wage increases of 10.5% for the term of the contract bring nurse wages in closer parity with surrounding hospitals, helping to recruit and retain experienced nurses for the community.
- Safe patient transport: The County has agreed to add staff for the purpose of minimizing time nurses are off the unit to transport telemetry patients to procedures. Nurses say this will help protect both the patient being transported and the patients on the unit.
- Meal and break periods: Additional staff will be scheduled on each shift to provide breaks for nurses in direct patient care units/departments, allowing nurses adequate time to rest and return to their patients with improved focus.
- Education opportunities: The County has agreed to pay up to $7500 over 5 years, based on years of service, for student loans—ensuring well-educated nurses for the community.
- Greater nurse input into issues that impact safe patient care: County committees that address issues such as safe patient lifting, workplace violence in healthcare settings, and infectious disease protections will now include nurse representatives, rather than just County employees. This will allow nurses to have a strong voice in safe patient care and safe working conditions for RNs.
“For years, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors chose to invest in hiring temporary registry nurses, rather than investing in the patients in our community by focusing on recruitment and retention of permanent nursing staff," said Toni Rodriguez, RN. “This agreement will begin to turn that trend around, and keep experienced nurses in our County health system. It’s a big victory, and it’s what our patients deserve.”
“The determination and support of our nurses has lead to a contract that provides us with language that protects patients and nurses in the delivery of patient care,” said Hector Sanchez, RN. “This agreement will provide both our young as well as our seasoned RNs with the tools needed to maintain a safe work place.”
The California Nurses Association represents approximately 1,300 RNs in San Bernardino County and has 100,000 members throughout the state. CNA is affiliated with National Nurses United, the largest and fastest growing union of registered nurses in the US with more than 150,000 members nationwide. CNA/NNU plays a leadership role in safeguarding the health and safety of RNs and their patients and has won landmark legislation in the areas of staffing, safe patient handling, infectious disease and workplace violence prevention.