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Saint Mary's Reno RNs Win Landmark Nevada Pact

Huge Breakthroughs in Patient Safety with RN Staffing Ratios 29.5% Pay

Hikes, Pension, Retiree Health Will Aid RN Retention

RENO, Nev., Sept. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Registered nurses at Saint Mary's Regional Medical Center in Reno won a groundbreaking tentative agreement with hospital officials early this morning on their first-ever collective bargaining pact that sets a new Nevada standard for patient safety protections and enhanced conditions for RNs.

Establishment of hospital-wide minimum, specific RN-to-patient staffing ratios is a centerpiece of the proposed pact, the California Nurses Association/ National Nurses Organizing Committee (CNA/NNOC), which represents 500 RNs at Saint Mary's, said this morning. Saint Mary's RNs voted to join CNA/NNOC last December.

"This agreement will transform the landscape for nurses and patients in Nevada," said Jill Furillo, RN, the CNA/NNOC Nevada director. "RNs throughout Nevada closely followed our contract talks. The breathtaking improvements we have achieved, which are unprecedented in Nevada, will have a profound impact throughout the state."

"Saint Mary's nurses have negotiated the best contract in the state of Nevada," said labor and delivery RN Mary Maupin.

The ratios, which match those won by CNA/NNOC in California law and hundreds of California hospitals, and strengthened through enforceable contract law, are the first-ever California-style, hospital-wide ratios achieved for any RNs outside California.

"We set initial goals for staffing ratios and have gone well beyond our expectations. We are so proud to be the first state outside of California to have achieved the California ratios in our contract," said neo-natal intensive care Unit RN Marylea Hall.

Additional key elements of the pact include more patient safety protections, with limits on unsafe assignments of RNs to areas where they do not have clinical expertise, and safe patient handling procedures, as well as major economic improvements.

The RNs will gain average pay increases of 29.5 percent over four years, assurances of future pay hikes based on years of experience, and big improvements in retirement security with pension and retiree health gains.

Furillo noted that the contract gains are modeled on improvements CNA/NNOC has won in other hospitals that, like Saint Mary's, are part of the Catholic Healthcare West system. CNA/NNOC represents 10,500 RNs at 27 CHW hospitals in California and Nevada. "It is the collective strength of CNA/NNOC RNs throughout CHW facilities that sets the table for achievements like this," Furillo said.

The tentative agreement, which must still be approved by the nurses in upcoming membership meetings next week. The nurse negotiating team is unanimously recommending ratification.

"This contract is what we needed to recruit and retain nurses," said Saint Mary intensive care RN Kevin Redner. "The contract promotes professional standards and protects our patients. Our historic nurse-to-patient ratios based upon California's standards will help pave the way for safer patient care here in Nevada and across the nation."

"We voted for CNA less than 10 months ago and we won the same ratios that CNA achieved after its courageous 10-year campaign in our contract. Thank you CNA," said Hall. "Our average wage increase is 29.5 percent, but with the employer-paid health benefits for my family, I will actually receive an additional 7 percent in additional compensation. I never dreamed I would get 36.5 percent."

"Until now nurses were not sure how they were going to retire. But now with our new retirement plan and retiree health benefit, nurses can look forward to retirement," Maupin said.

"Ratios have had a stunning impact for nurses and patients in California hospitals," said CNA/NNOC Co-president Malinda Markowitz. "RNs now have the time they need to assure patients receive the care they need. The ratios, along with gains made by CNA/NNOC in California hospitals, have also helped reduce the nursing shortage in California by encouraging RNs to stay at the bedside."

Other components of the agreement include:

-- Pay increases averaging 29.5 percent over four years, with at least 16

percent of the increase within the next 10 months. More than 100 of the

RNs will see higher increases.

-- Safe patient lifting procedure to reduce patient falls and accidents

and RN injuries.

-- Fully-paid employer health benefits, including dependent coverage, and

the best retiree health package for RNs anywhere in the state of


-- No mandatory overtime, except in cases of a publicly declared emergency

or an unavoidable occurrence.

CNA/NNOC is the nation's largest organization of registered nurses with 80,000 members in all 50 states.

SOURCE California Nurses Association
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