St. John’s Nurses to Vote on Contract with Catholic Healthcare West
Nurses at St. John's hospitals in Camarillo and Oxnard will vote today on a contract with Catholic Healthcare West, the hospitals' not-for-profit parent company, the Ventura County Star reports. The four-year contract would guarantee a 4% annual raise and would "freeze" premium rates for nurses' medical insurance. It also establishes a "patient care committee" made up of nurses and managers to "hammer out" solutions when nurses say their patient load is "unsaf[e]." In addition, the contract requires all nurses at the hospital to become members of the Service Employees International Union Local 399, which represents the nurses. The Star reports that both union and hospital officials say the contract is "fair" and will help improve staffing levels. During negotiations, union officials argued that nurses needed a greater say in staffing levels, while the hospital said management "must maintain the right to make staffing decisions." Rita O'Conner, a spokesperson for the hospitals, said the contract will make St. John's nurses' salaries "more competitive" in the Ventura County market. She added, "We're very happy with this contract because we believe it will help us recruit and retain nurses, pay them competitively and continue our mission of providing quality patient ... and charity care" (Koehler, Ventura County Star, 3/15).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.