University of California Registered Nurses Ratify New Contract
After "months" of negotiations and a "narrowly avoided" strike last month, registered nurses with the University of California system voted on Friday to ratify a new contract, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (AP/Sacramento Bee, 6/22). Ninety-five percent of the UC nurses approved the three-year contract (Wiley, Sacramento Bee, 6/22). Under the contract, the health system will eliminate its merit-based salary system and pay nurses based on seniority. Nurses' salaries will increase an average of 19% to 25% over the next three years, and the health system will retain the right to give nurses lump-sum rewards for "good performance." In addition, the system will pay longtime nurses "equity raises" to increase their salaries to the levels of newly hired nurses, who have been offered higher wages as a recruiting tool. The new contract will only permit mandatory overtime in emergencies and situations in which managers feel it is necessary to "maintain safe patient care." Health system officials and nurses will establish committees to discuss the minimum nurse-to-patient ratios that have been mandated by Gov. Gray Davis (D) but have yet to go into effect (California Healthline, 6/19). The California Nurses Association, which represents the UC system's 8,000 registered nurses, said that the new contract would "promot[e] the retention and recruitment of RNs" and reduce the nurse shortage (AP/Sacramento Bee, 6/22).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.