About 1,800 union nurses and other professionals of Rhode Island Hospital's were set to vote on a contract offer from the hospital's management.
Providence Journal, July 1, 2003
BY TIMOTHY C. BARMANN
Journal Staff Writer
Updated 9:15 a.m.
About 1,800 union nurses and other professionals of Rhode Island Hospital's will vote today on a contract offer from the hospital's management, according to the union representing the workers.
The hospital and union representatives were in talks all day yesterday. They reached a tentative agreement at 3:30 a.m. this morning, the union said in a press release.
"Members of the United Nurses and Allied Professionals will meet throughout today to consider and vote on the tentative settlement," the union said in its release.
The union said it would not release details of the tentative agreement until the membership vote is completed at 9:30 p.m. today.
The hospital last night issued a statement expressing hope that the two sides would reach an agreement.
A written statement issued by hospital spokeswoman Nicole Gustin said, "We understand that the union leadership plans to present the hospital's offer to its members for ratification [today]."
Neither Linda McDonald, president of the United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP) Local 5098, nor Rick Brooks, the union's director, could be reached for comment last night. The UNAP represents Rhode Island Hospital nurses, technologists, respiratory therapists and other health-care workers, about a third of the hospital's 5,800 employees.
Negotiators for Rhode Island Hospital and for the union returned to the bargaining table yesterday in hopes of reaching a last-minute agreement on a new contract.
In a news release issued yesterday, the union said that "difficult issues remain unresolved" in contract negotiations. It added that McDonald, the union's president, "intends to work hard to reach an agreement to present to her members" today.
The old contract was set to expire at midnight last night. Even if the two sides don't reach an agreement by today, the union cannot go out on strike for at least 10 days.
"As we continue to be in active negotiations with UNAP, the hospital does not expect to receive a 10-day strike notice," Gustin's statement said.
Before yesterday, the last bargaining session was held Friday. The hospital and the union have held about 10 formal bargaining sessions that began in mid-April, according to Gustin. There have also been many other informal meetings between the two sides related to negotiations, she said.
Among the issues separating the two sides, according to a union news release from June 19, are wages and benefits. The union characterized the two sides as being "very far apart" at that time.
The union said that a hospital wage proposal would freeze wages for two years for more than 1,200 of the union members. It also said the hospital is seeking to reduce employee benefits, including leaves of absence and health insurance.
Union members voted on June 18 to authorize its negotiating team to issue a strike notice to the hospital. The union is required to give a 10-day notice of any strike. As of yesterday afternoon, the union had not given that notice.
On Thursday, union members rallied outside the hospital. The union said it was urging the hospital to address its recruitment and retention difficulties by improving wages and benefits.
Gustin, the hospital spokeswoman, declined to discuss the issues the two sides are trying to resolve.
"We're working very hard to hammer out those at the negotiating table," she said yesterday in a telephone interview.
Asked whether the hospital is preparing for a strike, Gustin said the hospital does have contingency plans in place.
"But at this point, we're very hopeful we'll come to an agreement that's fair to both sides," she said. "So it's really premature to talk about what we would do in the event of strike."
Jul 8, '03
Nurses and other health-care workers will receive annual average wage increases of 3 percent to 4 percent over the next three years, improvements in pensions, and provisions to work on reducing staff shortages.
BY TIMOTHY C. BARMANN
Journal Staff Writer
Some 1,800 nurses and other unionized health-care workers voted yesterday to accept a new three-year contract with Rhode Island Hospital last night..
The vote was taken after negotiators from the hospital and United Nurses and Allied Professionals Local 5098 reached a tentative deal at about 3:30 a.m. It was announced at a 9:30 p.m. news conference at the Teamsters Hall in East Providence.
The two sides negotiated most of the day Monday, into yesterday morning, and came to an agreement 3 1/2 hours after the old contract expired. The union represents Rhode Island Hospital nurses, technologists, respiratory therapists and other health-care workers, who total nearly a third of the hospital's 5,800 employees.
Channel 10 reported that 85 percent of the members voted yes. The contract improvements include annual average wage increases of 3 percent to 4 percent over the next three years, improvements in pensions, and provisions to work on reducing staff shortages.
"We have made progress to ensure that our patients and their families continue to receive the experienced care that they deserve," union president Linda McDonald, a registered nurse, said last night after the vote.
Dr. Joseph Amaral, Rhode Island Hospital president and CEO, said he was "delighted" that the union and the hospital had reached an agreement for a new three-year contract.
"For the past three years, the hospital has worked hard to demonstrate the high value we place on all of our employees. I truly believe the hospital is its people and programs -- not just bricks and mortar," said Amaral.
"This is a comprehensive offer that addresses the needs of our employees, while allowing the hospital to continue to provide the highest quality care for our patients."
Amaral also thanked the negotiating teams "who worked hard to reach the important agreement."
The tenor of the negotiations was courteous and respectful, according to hospital officials. Everyone at the bargaining table was focused and intent on coming to a resolution, according to the officials.
The union had raised the possibility of a strike about two weeks ago when it characterized the two sides as being far apart. Union members voted on June 18 to authorize its negotiating team to issue a strike notice to the hospital. The union is required to give a 10-day notice of any strike. However, the union had not issued the notice.
The hospital and the union held about 10 formal bargaining sessions that began in mid-April, according to Nicole Gustin, a spokeswoman for the hospital's parent company, Lifespan. There also were many other informal meetings between the two sides related to negotiations, she said.
Key issues separating the two sides were wages and benefits, according to a news release from June 19.
Documents on the UNAP Web site said that both the union and the hospital shared some of the same goals in negotiating a new contract, including increasing employee retention, improving employee morale and increasing patient satisfaction. But the union said each side had its own way of achieving those goals.
"A lot of the things that the union wants on behalf of their members we want on behalf of our employees," said Gustin, the hospital spokeswoman.
With reports from staff writer Karen Lee Ziner.
to see Summary of Contract Settlement between United Nurses & Allied Professionals and Rhode Island Hospital and wage scale.
Last edit by NRSKarenRN on Jul 8, '03