Saint John's Health Center Registered Nurses Reach Tentative Dispute Agreement
Posted Oct. 24, 2012, 2:50 am
Mitch James / Mirror Contributor
Registered nurses and hospital officials have reached a tentative agreement on a first collective bargaining agreement at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica.
The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United made the announcement today, which signals the end is near in the long-running dispute at the hospital.
Key to the agreement are provisions that the nurses say will enhance patient protections, as well as economic gains, no reductions in nurses’ health coverage or pensions, and other contract protections that the RNs say will promote quality of care and retention of experienced RNs and recruitment of new nurses.
Nurses said today they achieved their primary goals of an agreement that will encourage safer staffing and other patient protections, as well as addressing economic disparity for Saint John’s RNs with other area CNA-represented nurses.
Nurses must still ratify the settlement, with membership meetings set to review the pact on Friday and Saturday. CNA represents 500 RNs at Saint John’s. The nurses voted to join CNA in May of last year and have been pressing for a first contract since.
“We are proud of this agreement, and when it is ratified by Saint John’s RNs, we will have won important safeguards for patients and increased patient advocacy rights for nurses,” said Lori Hammond, RN, who works in the labor and delivery unit, is a member of the CNA RN Bargaining Team and has worked at the hospital for 33 years. This agreement will go a long way to help attract and retain RNs at Saint John’s.”
Christine Busch, RN, who works in pre-operative surgery and is on the CNA bargaining team.
“The bargaining team is proud of the way RNs joined together to win this agreement, as well as the new relationships we’ve forged with patients and members of our community," Busch said. “As a result of these negotiations, Saint John’s nurses are more united than ever.”
Patient care provisions in the two-year agreement include:
• Adherence to the state law requirements on safe staffing with minimum RN-to-patient ratios, with arbitration for addressing disputes on staffing issues.
• Restrictions on assigning RNs to clinical areas for which they do not have demonstrated clinical expertise and orientation.
• Compliance with the new state law on safe lifting policies to reduce patient falls and accidents and RN injuries associated with lifting of patients.
• Establishment of a seven member Professional Practice Committee of nurses elected by their colleagues to meet with management to discuss patient care issues.
• Assurance that new technology not be used to displace RN professional judgment OR undermine patient care or RN jobs.
Among other contract highlights:
• Wage increases, retroactive to last December of up to 5 percent the first year, and up to 7 percent the second year, depending on length of service at the hospital.
• No cuts in RN health benefits or pension plans.
• Just cause disciplinary rights for RNs.