STANFORD: Nurses Approve New Contract By Slim Margin
Stanford University nurses yesterday narrowly approved a new two-year contract, bringing an end to a 51-day walkout that became one of the longest nursing strikes in California history, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Of the 1,730 striking nurses, 825 voted to approve the new contract -- only 15 more than required for passage (Feder, 7/28). Under the new contract, the nurses will receive a 5% raise each of the next two years; nurses with 15 or more years of experience will receive a 6% increase each year. In addition, the contract ends mandatory overtime for nurses and allows nurses to request relief from their shift if they are too tired or sick to perform their duties. Nurses also may request a hospital review of staffing levels and take disputes to a federal mediator, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Sue Weinstein, president of the Committee to Recognize Nursing Achievement, the union representing the nurses, said, "It was very close. I'm very, very happy. We go in with our heads held high" (Workman/Squatriglia, 7/28). However, as evidenced by the close votes, some nurses did not support the contract terms. Cardiology nurse Myrla Putulin said, "I'm not really satisfied. We've been out for so long, and to only get 1% more than what we were originally offered was discouraging." The hospitals had offered nurses a 4% annual raise, but the union sought a 7.5% increase. Mary Jane Aberin-Marchan, a floating nurse, added, "I feel that the hospital has a lack of respect for nurses. I want to go back to work, but I would have liked it to be on better terms. ... They could have done better." Stanford spokesperson Matt Lash said Stanford University Hospital and the Lucile Salter Packard Children's Hospital are "pleased that the labor dispute is over" (San Jose Mercury News, 7/28). While it will take several days to get all of the nurses back to work, Lash said that the hospitals "will do everything [they] can to make it a smooth transition" (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/28).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.