RNs Vote for Four Year Contract

WASHINGTON—Some 1,900 registered nurses, members of National Nurses United at Washington, D.C.’s largest hospital, voted on June 4-5 on a tentative 4-year contract with the facility, the Washington Hospital Center, the union announced.


The pact has “significant improvements for patient protection,” NNU’s top national cause, plus better pay, and retained health coverage and pensions, NNU said.  The pay hikes will help nurse recruitment and retention, and help relieve short-staffing, the union pointed out.


“Our new contract will ensure nurses have a mechanism for raising staffing and patient care concerns “said cardiac intensive care nurse Erica Ward, chair of the union’s committee that bargained with management specifically on patient care. For the first time, she added, the nurses’ Patient Practices Committee will be able to address short-staffing.


The two sides quickly agreed on June 1, in their first meeting in seven months – and after hospital intransigence forced NNU into a 1-day strike in December followed by a 9-day management lockout of the RNs.  The lockout brought a lot of flak against the hospital.


Management agreed “to effectively end the practice of requiring nurses to work alter-nating night and day shifts, which significantly increases the danger of fatigue that can lead to medical errors and accidents. Under the pact, the hospital will post night only shifts, assuring the end of rotating shifts with all RNs able to count on consistent schedules,” NNU said.


All RNs will get raises of up to 12.6 percent over the next four years, plus retention bonuses and other economic gains. NNU said the gains will help keep experienced RNs and in recruiting new nurses.


The hospital also agreed to “maintain lift equipment on every hospital floor so that patients can be safely moved, sharply reducing the threat of patient falls and accidents and debilitating nurse injuries, a major problem in healthcare,” the union said.  And the hospital dropped demands to let it unilaterally cut RN health care coverage and pensions.


Source: PAI