Catholic Healthcare West, California Nurses Association Reach Tentative Contract Agreement
Not-for-profit hospital system Catholic Healthcare West and the California Nurses Association, which represents 4,000 registered nurses, on Tuesday reached a tentative agreement on a three-year labor contract for nurses working at 11 CHW hospitals in California, the AP/Los Angeles Times reports (AP/Los Angeles Times, 7/14). Under the agreement, nurse salaries would increase by between 18% and 29% over the duration of the contract and mandatory overtime would be banned, except in emergencies or situations involving mass casualties. The contract also incorporates state policies that allow nurses to determine whether they have sufficient training to be effective in a hospital department. The contract would increase pension benefits and employer-sponsored retiree health benefits for nurses who retire at age 55. In addition, the contract calls for staffing disputes to be arbitrated by a third party (Welton, San Luis Obispo Tribune, 7/14). The agreement would add CHW nurses to a master contract that covers 4,000 other registered nurses. CHW nurses represented by CNA are scheduled to vote on the contract next week. Negotiations have been underway for several months, according to Chuck Idelson, a spokesperson for the nurses' union. CHW operates 41 hospitals in California, Arizona and Nevada (AP/Los Angeles Times, 7/14).
Idelson said that the proposed contract would "rais[e] standards for registered nurses," adding, "They'll have better wages, better retirement packages, better security and better patient care conditions." Bonnie Dean, a nurse at CHW's Arroyo Grande Community Hospital, said the contract would allow the facility to "retain our experienced nurses and recruit more experienced nurses to take care of our patients." She added that the mandatory overtime ban, "coupled with the ability to arbitrate staffing disputes, allows nurses to act as true patient advocates" (San Luis Obispo Tribune, 7/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.