Glendale Memorial nurses set to vote on new contract

Registered nurses at Glendale Memorial Hospital are set to vote on a deal for their own healthcare as part of a tentative four-year agreement with the hospital's parent company, Dignity Health.

The deal covers 12,000 registered nurses at 28 hospitals in California and Nevada, Dignity Health and the California Nurses Assn. announced this week.

Glendale Memorial employs 415 registered nurses, who will vote on whether to ratify the contract in the next two weeks.

The collective bargaining agreement guarantees no reduction in health coverage, expands guaranteed pensions and retiree health benefits, and establishes a new accident-prevention program.

Eric Macatuno, the union representative for Glendale Memorial, said that the new collective bargaining agreement was indicative of both the union's leverage and the attitude of Dignity.

"It's just the power of 12,000 nurses within Dignity at so many hospitals, within so many communities.... And for Dignity to seek a path of accommodation, not confrontation, those were the key things," he said.

Macatuno said obtaining the accident-prevention program, which provides supplemental insurance for nurses injured in workplace violence or by needle-stick accidents, was a major goal for the union.

"We've been seeing a lot of workplace violence and accidents here and there," he said. "We've been trying to get something like that in that contract for some time; this is a seminal moment for us."

The nurses affected are members of the California Nurses Assn. and the National Nurses Organizing Committee in Nevada, and both are part of the 185,000-member National Nurses United.

The current agreement expires on Sept. 13. Voting on ratification of the new agreement will come next week for most of the affected facilities, Macatuno said.

In a statement released earlier this week, Darryl Robinson, executive vice president for Dignity Health, said the agreement worked for both the employer and the employees.

"This agreement honors our commitment to our employees and our healing mission while acknowledging the significant challenges Dignity Health and other providers are facing in the current healthcare environment," he said.

Macatuno said that the union is pleased that Dignity isn't cutting pension or healthcare benefits at a time when many other hospital chains are looking to do so, and hopes the next agreement continues in that vein.

"This is a solid contract to have in place and means the nurses are able to continue to deliver safe care to the community," he said.



Follow Daniel Siegal on Google+ and on Twitter: @Daniel_Siegal.


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