Nurses Ratify New Contract with Sharp Hospital System
Nurses at San Diego-based Sharp HealthCare's hospital system last week ratified a new three-year contract that will provide "across-the-board" wage increases and more authority in staffing level decisions, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. According to the United Nurses Associations of California, the union representing the 2,400 nurses, the contract was approved by a 90% majority. Under the agreement, nurses will receive a pay raise of between 6% and 10% in the first year, and raises between 4% and 8% in the second and third years. Sharp has agreed to establish a new dispute resolution system to address several issues, including staffing levels. In addition, the hospital system has agreed to "scale back" its mandatory overtime policy, promising to use it only during declared emergencies, such as natural disasters. Negotiations between the two sides began in April in anticipation of the May 31 expiration of the old contract. With talks at a stalemate, the nurses late last month voted to allow union officials to give a 10-day intent-to-strike notice. Union officials had planned to give the hospital system their strike notice last week, but they "pulled back" after Sharp officials "softened their bargaining stance." Chris McGovern, a nurse at Sharp and president of the local affiliate of the nurses union, said, "I think Sharp underestimated the resolve of the nurses. Once Sharp understood how strong that resolve was, we were able to wrap up negotiations quickly." Mike Murphy, president and CEO of Sharp HealthCare, called the new contract a "victory for Sharp, for the nurses and for the patients" (Fong, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/16).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.