SAN DIEGO — The California Nurses Association announced Monday it has reached a tentative contract agreement with the University of California system.
The association said in a statement that the contract will benefit 14,000 registered nurses employed at the five major UC medical centers (including UC San Diego), 10 student health centers, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. It says the agreement features host of improvements and protections for both patients and nurses.
If approved in voting starting this week, the contract would run through October 2022.
“This is such a tremendous accomplishment by nurses throughout the state, who stood strong for our patients and won the protections that they deserve because we will never stop advocating for safe patient care and for the rights of nurses as we provide that care,” said RN and bargaining team member Randy Howell. “UC nurses stood union strong, and we used our collective voice to win an agreement that is going to benefit patients all over California for years to come.”
The statement said the pact includes protections for staffing based on the level of care a patient’ illness requires, not based on UC budgetary goals; protections from unsafe assignments to areas requiring specialty expertise; improved protections around shift rotation; and language ensuring RNs’ right take their lawful meal and rest breaks.
“All of these safe staffing protections make for safe patient care … which is what UC patients deserve,” according to the statement.
The agreement also includes protections from violence.
“Given that healthcare workers experience extremely high rates of workplace violence, nurses say it’s critical that the tentative agreement states UC facilities must have a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan in place in line with California’s nation-leading workplace violence law, as well as protections from sexual harassment,” according to the statement.
Additionally, healthcare workers cannot protect their patients without being protected themselves, say nurses, and to that end, the tentative agreement includes language strengthening the policies and equipment necessary to control the spread of communicable diseases in the hospital.
The tentative pact includes pay increases of at least 15 percent over the term of the contract, with additional wages that address economic disparity for a number of locations and job classifications, contributing to the recruitment and retention of quality, experienced nurses for the community. Nurses dedicating their lives to caring for UC patients also deserve to retire with dignity, say nurses who fought hard to ensure the tentative agreement preserves and protect pension benefits.
“We are beyond thrilled at this huge achievement, which is not just a win for RNs, but for everyone in our care. We did this for communities all over California, because it is our duty to advocate for them,” said bargaining team member Michelle Kay, Nurse Practitioner at UCB Student Health.
The California Nurses Association has 100,000 members statewide and is affiliated with National Nurses United, the largest and fastest growing union of RNs in the nation. CNA/NNU say they have won landmark health and safety protections for nurses and patients in the areas of staffing, safe patient handling, infectious disease and workplace violence protection.
There was no immediate reaction from the UC system, but Dwaine B. Duckett, UC vice president for human resources, praised both sides after the tentative agreement was announced last weekend.
“Leadership from both sides got back to the table and worked very hard to resolve the issues, and we are pleased to have reached a tentative agreement at this point,” Duckett said. “We appreciate our nurses ongoing dedication to their patients and to UC.”