Contra Costa County Proposes Nurse Retirement Benefit Restrictions
Contra Costa County has been negotiating with the nurses' union to reduce spending on retirement benefits -- a move that could provide nurses an incentive to seek work elsewhere, the Contra Costa Times reports. Spending on retirement benefits for all retired employees totaled $179 million last year.
Contra Costa negotiators have proposed making nurses work 15 years, instead of five, before qualifying for retiree health benefits.
In addition, the county has proposed a two-year wage freeze, with a 2% cost-of-living wage increase in the third year. County negotiators also said they are willing to increase entry-level salaries by about 10% to attract new nurses, but no salary increases are being proposed to retain midcareer specialists, according to critical care nurse and union negotiator Kip Norwood.
Contra Costa County already pays nurses about $10 less per hour than private hospitals and clinics in the area. Records also show that county nurses work long hours to cover staffing shortages, and some studies suggest they are experiencing more injuries, due in part to overwork and lifting obese patients.
The union is asking for more time off, better staffing rations and pay increases (Rosen Lum, Contra Costa Times, 2/3).