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RNs at Nine Catholic Healthcare West Hospitals Reach Agreement on New Master Pact

3,500 Nurses Fight Healthcare Takeaways, Win Better Patient Safety

Protections and Pay

10,000 CHW RNs in 25 Facilities Set to Bargain Together in 2009

OAKLAND, Calif., Sept. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Some 3,500 registered nurses at nine Southern California and Central Coast facilities in the Catholic Healthcare West chain won sweeping improvements in a major contract settlement, the California Nurses Association announced today.

The agreement, which Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, called "a significant advance for the retention and recruitment of registered nurses," will be voted on in membership meetings Thursday. Highlights of the contract, which include provisions protecting patient safety and healthcare benefits for current and retiree nurses, will help set new industry-wide standards for the treatment of nurses, and will set the stage for a new all-California contract to be negotiated in 2009 that will cover all 10,000 CHW RNs at 25 CNA-represented facilities.

"The nurses believe their voice was heard with an agreement that will increase patient safety and protect nurses," added DeMoro. "This agreement will certainly allow for the retention of experienced nurses and the recruitment of new nurses, while setting the stage for a statewide contract covering 10,000 RNs in 2009."

Key provisions of the agreement, first announced last week, include:

-- Incorporation of the state's mandated numeric RN-to-patient ratios to

protect patient safety with arbitration on any disputes involving

ratios, and inclusion of new ratios in certain units

-- No takeaways in healthcare, after picketing and collective action by

thousands of CHW nurses

-- Enhanced retirement security with a major improvement in retiree health

benefits, and an oversight committee of RNs selected by nurses and

management to evaluate and protect the viability of CHW's pension plan

-- Pay increases of 16 percent to 21 percent over two years

-- Protection of the nurses' right to representation and to be an

effective patient advocate. CHW has agreed not to seek to re-classify

any represented RNs as "supervisors," using a Bush administration labor

board ruling

-- Nationally-significant language that deployment of new technology will

not limit the RNs in the exercise of their clinical judgment, including

the ability to act as patient advocates, and assures that the

technology will be used to "enhance, not degrade, nursing skills"

-- Agreement that nurses will be released if they volunteer their services

in times of crisis or disaster to the CNA-sponsored RN Response Network

Hospitals covered by the pact include California Hospital Medical Center, Community Hospital of San Bernardino, St. Bernardine Medical Center, Glendale Memorial Hospital, San Gabriel Valley Medical Center, St. Mary's Medical Center Long Beach, Arroyo Grande Community Hospital, Marian Medical Center, and French Hospital.

SOURCE California Nurses Association
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