Nurses reach tentative agreement
Victoria Colliver, Chronicle Staff Writer Saturday, July 14, 2001
Negotiators representing about 1,000 registered nurses at three Catholic Healthcare West hospitals in the Bay Area said yesterday that they reached a tentative contract agreement.
The contract, which was reached late Thursday and has yet to be ratified by the nurses, was hailed as a "breakthrough agreement" by the nurses' union.
"This is one of the best nursing contracts in the country," said Chuck Idelson, spokesman for the California Nurses Association.
Nurse negotiators unanimously recommended the contract, which covers nurses at St. Mary's Medical Center and St. Francis Memorial Hospital, both in San Francisco, and Seton Medical Center in Daly City. The nurses will vote Tuesday through Thursday on the contract.
The proposed settlement includes salary increases of 5 percent each year of the two-year contract, increases of about 30 percent in pension benefits, retiree health benefits for the first time, increased scheduling flexibility and other improvements.
"I'm really thrilled we got a lot of our retirement needs addressed . . . as well as some improvements in pension," said Paul Anglehart, an emergency room nurse at Seton. "Our nursing population is getting older and that was of particular interest to the nurses."
About 3,500 registered nurses at Catholic Healthcare West hospitals in Northern California were set to walk off their jobs on June 27, but progress in negotiations between the union and the hospitals averted that threat.
The first agreements were reached at Dominican Santa Cruz Hospital and St. Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy.
Catholic Healthcare West officials were pleased the two sides in the contract talks affecting the three Bay Area hospitals were finally able to reach an agreement.
"We both have high hopes this package, with the way it's put together, is something the nurses can be very happy with," said Catholic Healthcare West spokesman Stephen Texeira.
Texeira said it's not like one side won and the other lost. "There're ways money can be arranged and that's what has been done," he said. "We don't feel like we compromised in any way."
Meanwhile, a team of nurses at the four Mercy Healthcare hospitals in Sacramento reached a tentative agreement late Wednesday through a federal mediator. The nurses will vote on the contract Wednesday through Friday.
E-mail Victoria Colliver at firstname.lastname@example.org