Tentative agreement diminishes threat of strike by Catholic Health West nurses

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    "The labor gap has been a crucial issue for both sides during negotiations.
    Otherwise, Mercy and CNA officials did agree on several significant points,
    including a first-time health care program for retirees and additional pay
    ranging from $80 to $180 per shift for nurses who work extra hours to
    alleviate shortages."

    > Tentative agreement diminishes threat of strike by nurses
    >
    > <http://www.sacbee.com/ib/news/ib_news03_20010626.html>
    >
    > By Cathleen Ferraro
    > Bee Staff Writer
    > (Published June 26, 2001)
    >
    > Thousands of Northern California registered nurses ready to walk off their
    > hospital jobs Wednesday have scrapped those plans after their union and
    > employer came to a tentative contract agreement.
    > The California Nurses Association and Catholic Healthcare West, parent of
    > the Sacramento-area Mercy units and Woodland Healthcare, reached a proposed
    > two-year accord early Saturday morning that, so far, is keeping nurses on
    > the job.
    > Locally, the one-day strike was scheduled to hit Mercy General, Mercy San
    > Juan Medical Center, Mercy Folsom, Methodist Hospital and Woodland
    > Healthcare, involving almost 1,700 RNs.
    > St. Mary's Medical Center and St. Francis Memorial in San Francisco,
    > Dominican Hospital in Gilroy {actually in Santa Cruz--ed.] and Seton
    > Medical Center in Daly City were targeted for walkouts, too. About 1,400
    > union RNs were poised to strike in the Bay Area.
    > Instead, bargaining units for both sides said RNs will cast ballots
    > Wednesday, Thursday and Friday on the tentative pact. Pivotal in the vote
    > will be the fact that the union didn't fully agree to CHW's wage proposal,
    > a 7.5 percent increase in the first year and a 4 percent hike in the second.
    > "We're not saying 'no' and we're not saying 'yes,' " said Don Nielsen,
    > chief negotiator for CNA. "It's a tossup for us, and we're asking the
    > nurses to tell us what they want."
    > Already, Mercy gave all of its RNs in Sacramento an interim pay increase of
    > 6 percent in May. That 6 percent would be part of the 7.5 percent proposed
    > in the contract.
    > Additionally, Mercy and CNA agreed that all RNs with five to 20 years of
    > experience at Mercy will be eligible for extra pay because of their long
    > tenure.
    > Under the terms of the tentative contract, compensation will depend on
    > their current pay compared to salary benchmarks.
    > "We believe about 400 nurses will receive additional wage increases on top
    > of the contract proposal," estimated Jill Dryer, spokeswoman for CHW in
    > Sacramento. "With these increases, our pay rate will be competitive within
    > the area's health care market."
    > Nationwide, a shortage of nurses is forcing hospitals to come up with
    > better ways to recruit and retain qualified people.
    > The labor gap has been a crucial issue for both sides during negotiations.
    > Otherwise, Mercy and CNA officials did agree on several significant points,
    > including a first-time health care program for retirees and additional pay
    > ranging from $80 to $180 per shift for nurses who work extra hours to
    > alleviate shortages.
    > Meanwhile, CNA continued to bargain Monday over nurses' wages and
    > conditions at Woodland Healthcare. Negotiators for Woodland did not meet
    > Friday when the union and officials for Sacramento Mercy hospitals were
    > bargaining.
    > Catholic Healthcare West is one of the biggest health care systems in the
    > western United States. It operates 47 hospitals and five medical practice
    > groups in California, Arizona and Nevada. The company also oversees care
    > for 300,000 patients and employs about 40,000 people.
    > -------
    > The Bee's Cathleen Ferraro can be reached at (916)321-1043 or
    > cferraro@sacbee.com.
    >
    >
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