Bureau Of National Affairs

 

Tuesday, December 2, 1997

News

 

Health Care Employees

 

LIUNA Members Ratify First Pact With Mercy Medical Center in California

 

One-year after voting for representation by the Laborers' International Union of North America, registered nurses at Mercy Medical Center in Redding, Calif., have ratified their first contract.

 

The 39-month contract, which covers some 500 nurses, was ratified Nov. 21. The agreement was reached one-week earlier following a corporate campaign waged by the union, according to LIUNA organizer Bill Goodrich.

 

According to Goodrich, in mid-September the medical center presented its last, best, and final offer, which was rejected by a 2-1 margin. Following the rejection, the union began a public campaign, he said, with a candlelight vigil as well as leafletting of the community. Talks resumed on Nov. 14, he said, and by the end of the day the medical center had presented a “completely different offer” that was acceptable to the union.

 

The contract provides wage increases totaling 8 percent over term, according to Alan Gugin, director of human resources for the medical center. He said nurses will receive an immediate 3 percent increase followed by increases of 1.5 percent in November 1998, 0.5 percent in May 1999, 1.5 percent in November 1999, and 1.5 percent in May 2000.

 

Goodrich, however, told BNA that the wage increases total 9.25 percent over term and break down differently than described by Gugin. In addition to the immediate 3 percent wage increase, the nurses also received a 1.25 percent lump-sum bonus, he said, adding that the medical center also gave the same bonus to other non-bargaining unit workers as well. According to Goodrich, the increases in each of the second and third years total 2.5 percent.

 

Prior to the first increase, Gugin said, the starting salary was $15.50 per hour while the maximum for a nurse with six years service was $21.28 an hour.

 

According to Goodrich, the nurses at Mercy had not received a pay increase in nearly five years.

 

Nurses who are on standby now will receive 28 percent of their hourly salary, up from 25 percent, according to Gugin. Goodrich, however, said the standby pay increases from 25 percent to 27 percent immediately, to 28.5 percent after 12 months, and to 30 percent after 24 months.

 

One issue in the organizing drive, according to Goodrich, was that staffing cutbacks had resulted in increasing the ratio between patients and nurses. To address this issue, the parties agreed to establish a nurses' review board, made up of managers and nurses, he said. Now, if a nurse feels that she/he has too many patients, the complaint can be taken to the review board.

 

Nurses are now covered by an agency shop provision that requires them within 90 days to join the union or pay “fair share” fees, which are the equivalent of union dues less the amount of dues that are used for political contributions.

 

The Mercy contract will expire Feb. 1, 2001.

 

Negotiations Continuing at Redding Medical Center

 

Meanwhile, LIUNA is in the process of negotiating a first contract for nearly 600 registered nurses, technical workers, and licensed practical nurses at Redding Medical Center. Those workers voted for LIUNA representation the same week that the Mercy nurses did (227 DLR A-3, 11/25/96). The certification, however, was held up for six months because Redding challenged the results, and negotiations for a first contract did not start until June, Goodrich said.

 

The union is prepared to begin discussing economic issues after the first of the year, he said, and will attempt to obtain a contract similar to that with Mercy since the issues are the same at both hospitals. He said he expects the union to have a contract to take to the membership for ratification by February.

 

Copyright © 1997 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc., Washington D.C.


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