Kaiser nurses ratify bold new contract
It boosts wages and benefits and ends mandatory overtime.
Sacramento Bee, Oct. 23, 2002
By Lisa Rapaport -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 a.m. PDT Wednesday, October 23, 2002
Union nurses at Kaiser Permanente's 17 Northern California hospitals have ratified a new contract that includes a ban on mandatory overtime shifts, gains in retiree pension and health benefits, and across-the-board wage increases of 26.5 percent over four years, union and hospital officials announced Tuesday.
The California Nurses Association represents 10,000 registered nurses at 17 Kaiser hospitals throughout Northern California, including three in Sacramento.
Under the pact, Kaiser agreed to eliminate all mandatory overtime shifts by Jan. 1.
Kaiser and the union also agreed to replace the nurses' current 401(k) plan with a defined benefits plan for retirees. Union officials said participation in the fund will nearly triple the current retiree benefits, offering Kaiser nurses a retirement income comparable to benefits available at other major hospital systems in California, including Sacramento-based Sutter Health.
The new deal also gives nurses who retire at age 55 with at least 15 years of service the chance to buy family and dependent health coverage through Kaiser's HMO plan at a reduced premium, based on years of service. At most, such nurses would pay 50 percent of the premium, with their contribution dropping 5 percent for each additional year of service, the union said.
The pact closes the gap between Sacramento and Bay Area wage scales, a big concern for local nurses at Kaiser Sacramento, Kaiser South Sacramento, and Kaiser Roseville Medical Center.
Starting hourly wages in Sacramento will go from $25.90 in the first year of the contract to $39.69 during the fourth year. In the Bay Area, hourly rates for new nurses will increase from $30.47 to $41.34 over the same period.
For the moment, that gives Kaiser nurses the best starting wages in the Sacramento area.
At Mercy Healthcare Sacramento hospitals and at Sutter Roseville Medical Center, where CNA also negotiated contracts, starting nurses earn around $23 an hour. At UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, where CNA just signed a new contract in June, starting nurses earn between $24 and $25.50 per hour.
The four-year pact, which is retroactive to Sept. 1, will remain in effect until Aug. 31, 2006.