Ending 13-Month Contra Costa Strike!

Nurses Activism



Doctor's San Pablo, Pinole RNs Win Retirement Gains in New Agreement Ending 13-Month Contra Costa Strike

Registered nurses at Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo and Pinole voted by 98% to approve a new collective bargaining agreement Monday night achieving significant gains in retirement security and bringing to an end a 13-month walkout, believed to be the longest RN strike in California history, the California Nurses Association announced today.

Doctors RNs today praised the pact and conclusion of the strike which began November 4, 2002, and said RNs are making plans to return to the bedside at the two Western Contra Costa County hospitals following the agreement with Tenet Healthcare Corporation which owns the facilities

A break in the long stalemate came with an agreement by Tenet to substantially improve the RN's retirement plans, and to establish the first post-retirement medical benefits at any Tenet hospital.

"Our nurses took a courageous stand in their struggle for retirement security, and we have achieved vital improvements that will ensure we can retire with dignity," said nurse negotiator Tami Ronczkevitz, RN, a 20-year nurse at Doctors.

Additionally, the RNs will receive salary increases, improvements in dental and long term disability benefits, and a stronger voice in patient care issues.

'A tribute to the Doctors RNs'

"This settlement is a tribute to the heroic stance of the Doctors RNs and their dedication to win decent retirement benefits for themselves, their families, their colleagues, and the next generation of Doctors RNs," said CNA Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro. "The spirit, integrity and perseverance of these RNs send a powerful signal to all California RNs that through unity they can make a dramatic difference for the nursing profession."

DeMoro also welcomed "the sincere efforts of the top administration of Tenet to reach a fair resolution to a long and difficult dispute."

Attorney General Bill Lockyer, who helped bring the two parties together to resume negotiations, also welcomed the settlement. "This will be a much happier holiday for the CNA nurses of Doctors Medical Center - San Pablo who will be able to return to a better workplace after a long and difficult 13-month strike," Lockyer said.

"Our strength and unity helped us to maintain Bay Area standards at Doctors while winning groundbreaking improvements for Tenet RNs," said Charlene Arrington, RN, a 30-year Doctors nurse who is also a nurse negotiator.

"Doctors RNs have been determined to protect high standards of patient care and good working conditions for RNs to assure this hospital retains an excellent, experienced RN work force and is able to attract new RNs to work at Doctors," said Corinne Comer, CNA acute care director. "With this agreement, I am confident for the future of this hospital."

Retirement benefit gains

Terms of the agreement include a substantial gain in retirement benefits. Tenet will provide guaranteed contributions of up to 8% of the RNs' salary, depending on the RNs' length of service, to a nurses' retirement plan. The contribution will no longer be dependent upon whether the RN contributes to her or his retirement plan.

For the first time, Tenet will make annual contributions of 1% of an RNs' pay to a medical savings account establishing post-retirement medical benefits.

All the RNs will receive immediate 10% across the board pay increases as they return to work, plus an additional 20% over the next three years.

The agreement also provides increased mechanisms for the RNs to work with the hospital on enhancing the voice of RNs in patient care delivery, developing and strengthening professional education initiatives, and retention and recruitment of experienced RNs.

In recent months, many Doctors RNs have been working at other Bay Area hospitals, but CNA said today that the improvements achieved in the negotiated settlement will encourage many long term RNs to return to the hospital where they have devoted their lives.

Ronczkevitz said she is "optimistic that we can work together at Doctors to ensure stability at the hospital and foster a therapeutic environment, provided by the hospitals' most experienced registered nurses, that is integral to the delivery of the highest quality of care for our patients."

"I'm so proud of all the Doctors RNs took a stand and who have worked so hard for this day," Arrington said. "We look forward to returning to work in the facility and the community we call home."

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