University of California Extends California Nurses Association Contract for Three Weeks
The University of California on Friday agreed to a three-week contract extension with the California Nurses Association, which represents 8,300 registered nurses at five UC hospitals statewide, the Sacramento Bee reports. The union and university agreed to extend the current contract until May 20 and resume negotiaions May 17. Contract negotiations began in February, but CNA and UC officials on Friday said they had not reached an agreement on issues such as wage scales, paid time off and health benefits.
Union officials oppose a proposal by UC to offer nurses more paid time off and fewer sick days. UC said the change would give managers more notice for days on which nurses could be absent from work, while the union said the change would make it more difficult for nurses to receive sick time.
CNA also requested that the contract guarantee specific staffing levels based on the severity of patients' illnesses or injuries. UC officials said staffing at the hospitals complies with state nurse staffing rules and that including additional staffing requirements in the contract would inhibit the flexibility of hospital managers.
In addition, CNA has asked UC to guarantee that workers' contributions toward health insurance premiums would not be increased, a proposal UC said it resisted because budget constraints or increased health costs might necessitate higher employee contributions.
Both CNA and UC declined to comment on the details of the pay rates currently under negotiation, according to the Bee. The wage scale is different for each of the five UC hospitals.
"Our hope is, we will continue bargaining and reach an agreement the week of May 17," UC spokesperson Noel Van Nyhuis said, adding, "We have proposed a competitive compensation package that gives targeted raises to nurses who need increases to bring their pay in line with the market."
Beth Kean, who oversees the UC nurses division for the union, said, "CNA is very disappointed with the package UC offered us today. The wages they proposed are still way below market. We are nowhere near resolving many of our biggest issues" (Rapaport, Sacramento Bee, 5/3).