St. Johns Health Center registered nurses on Friday and Saturday ratified their first ever collective bargaining agreement in a secret ballot, according to the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United.
According to a statement released today, the agreement includes 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.
“Saint John’s RNs have come a long way in our fight for our patients and our profession practice at our hospital,” said Chris Busch, an RN at the facility and a member of the CNA nurse bargaining team. “The new patient safety provisions and RN rights language will ensure the recruitment and retention of qualified nurses to care for our community.”
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.
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.
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 that time.