Tenet Healthcare Reaches Agreement With Two Nurses Unions
Officials from Tenet Healthcare, the nation's second-largest hospital chain, on Friday announced an agreement with two unions that will provide nurses and other employees of Tenet hospitals in California and Florida with a 29% wage increase over the next four years, Knight-Ridder/Orange County Register reports (Wolfson, Knight-Ridder/Orange County Register, 5/3). Under the three-year agreement, nurses represented by the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees will receive wage increases of 8% in the first year and 7% in each of the next two or three years (Rundle, Wall Street Journal, 5/5). The nurses represented by the two unions cannot strike over the three-year period of the agreement (Bloomberg/New York Times, 5/3). The agreement also will allow nonunion employees at Tenet hospitals to vote to join the two unions "without company resistance"; those who join one of the unions will receive the wage increase included in the agreement, Knight-Ridder/Register reports. The agreement covers Tenet employees represented by SEIU and AFSCME at 40 hospitals in California and two hospitals in Florida but not those at 72 other company hospitals nationwide (Knight-Ridder/Orange County Register, 5/3). According to the Wall Street Journal, the agreement should eliminate some of the "most contentious issues" from future contract negotiations and allow Tenet to focus on quality at a time when the federal government has launched several investigations into the company, the Journal reports (Wall Street Journal, 5/5). "Normally (Tenet) would want to contest unionization, but they need good labor relations right now. This is agreement is going to cost Tenet more money than it would like, but peace with the unions is an intangible that you can't put a value on," Nancy Weaver, an analyst for Stephens, said (Associated Press, 5/3).
The agreement may "soothe relations" between Tenet and the two unions but has "ignited a war" between the unions and the California Nurses Association, a third nurses union that competes for members with SEIU and AFSCME, the Journal reports (Wall Street Journal, 5/5). Tenet offered the same agreement to CNA, but union officials rejected the agreement. According to the Contra Costa Times, the agreement will provide SEIU and AFSCME with a "strong advantage" in the competition for members in California (Silber, Contra Costa Times, 5/3). CNA spokesperson Charles Idelson said that SEIU officials have begun to inform nonunion Tenet employees that they would lose a 29% wage increase over the next three years if they voted to join CNA. "It's a clear violation of labor law to be effectively bribing employees with the promise of increased pay solely on whether or not they will be joining SEIU or AFSCME," Idelson said. He added that CNA plans to file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (Wall Street Journal, 5/5).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.