Press Release

Keck Hospital of USC and USC Norris Cancer Hospital ratify a new contract with protections to improve patient safety and nurse retention

Four Keck nurses inside hospital wearing masks

Registered nurses at Keck Hospital of USC and USC Norris Cancer Hospital in Los Angeles, Calif. voted overwhelmingly in favor of ratifying a new four-year contract last night, winning protections to improve patient safety and nurse retention, the California Nurses Association (CNA) announced. The agreement ratified by the nurses on Sept. 21, was the result of a 10-month-long fight, which included a two-day strike by the nurses in July of this year.

“We are so pleased that after months of negotiations, we have ratified an agreement that provides substantial measures to ensure nurses have a stronger voice in providing safe patient care,” said Kerri Dodgens, a registered nurse at Keck Hospital of USC. “Notably, this contract establishes two new RN staffing committees, creates a new joint novel disease committee to discuss best practices and policies concerning emerging diseases, and includes numerous provisions that will improve recruitment and retention of experienced nurses.”

Highlights of the contract include:

Patient care protections, including 70 new RNs to be hired by the end of the year. These RNs will aid in ensuring proper staffing for safe patient care. Employer guarantees to reduce the number of non-employee contract nurses by 40 percent by the end of the year to facilitate strong nursing teams. Employer guarantees improved resource coverage for smaller units, and a resource nurse when five or more nurses are on duty.

Health and safety provisions, including new guarantees regarding personal protective equipment, new RN participation in the infection prevention committee, the new joint novel disease committee to discuss practices and policies regarding novel disease. Guarantees that nurses will not be penalized or disciplined for missing a scheduled shift to quarantine or isolate due to novel disease. The contract includes expanded provisions to prevent workplace violence.

Economic gains and benefits to help retain and recruit experienced nurses. The contract contains annual across-the-board and step increases. RNs will receive pay increases of up to 27.7 percent over the life of the contract. The nurses will maintain a free full-family health plan for themselves and their covered family members.

This contract maintains all the benefits of the previous contract and includes no takeaways.

“When we began bargaining last November, the hospitals presented us with numerous takeaways that would have led to a loss of experienced nurses and eroded patient care,” said Valerie Hernandez, RN. “However, through collective action, including a two-day strike, and the tireless efforts of the nurses, we were able to win a contract with no takeaways that will help us limit turnover and improve the care we can offer our patients and the well-being of our community.”

CNA represents nearly 1,400 nurses at Keck Hospital of USC and USC Norris Cancer Hospital.