Nurses pact ready for vote
Plan would raise pay, offer higher signing bonus
City officials and union leaders in San Francisco announced Tuesday a proposed $20 million-a-year labor pact intended to recruit and retain nurses by offering higher pay and more lucrative signing bonuses and increasing the number of nurses assigned to each hospital patient.
The plan is in the form of a negotiated contract between the city and Local 790 of the Service Employees International Union, which represents more than 1,500 nurses on the city payroll who work at San Francisco General Hospital, Laguna Honda Hospital and public health clinics.
The proposed one-year agreement comes during a nationwide nursing shortage that has sent employers in the private and public sectors scrambling to fill their nursing ranks. San Francisco, for instance, has about 1,650 budgeted city nursing positions, but has between 125 and 150 vacancies at any given time. Mayor Gavin Newsom, whose administration represented management in the negotiations, and union representatives expressed hope that the proposed contract will help address the shortage.
Under the terms of the proposed agreement, city nurses would receive a salary increase of between 7 percent and 13 percent over the next year, depending on their length of service; the nurses with the most seniority would get bigger raises. The signing bonus for new nurses would double to $5,000, and the city would double to $200,000 the money it sets aside to reimburse nurses for tuition for advanced training.
Currently, the annual salary for registered nurses working for the city ranges from $73,034 to $90,246. Some nurses, however, make more, and some make less, depending on their assignment and level of training.
The proposed agreement also calls for boosting the number of nurses assigned to each patient beyond the staffing mandate set by state voters. The cost of the new contract eventually would add $20 million a year to the $162 million the city now spends on its nurses. However, during the new fiscal year that begins July 1, the additional cost would be $7 million because the new provisions would be enacted incrementally over the next 12 months.
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