Violence prevention plans, wage increases, and sufficient PPE are among some of the RNs' wins.
RNs at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center (ABSMC) have voted overwhelmingly—87%—to ratify their collective bargaining agreement, concluding a systemwide contract fight with Northern California's Sutter Health that began in June 2021.
"We didn't get everything we wanted, but we made important gains to retain staff, and stop them from fleeing to other facilities," said Ann Gaebler, a neonatal ICU RN at ABSMC. "We will continue to address staffing at our hospital and fight for quality patient care."
While nurses approved contracts specific to their facility, highlights applicable across all 16 Sutter facilities include:
Patient and nurse safety protections: new workplace violence language to ensure the hospitals maintain sufficient security systems and violence prevention plans; maintenance of a three-month stockpile of PPE; and presumptive eligibility for workers' compensation during a state-declared pandemic or epidemic.
Recruitment and retention strategies: improved meal and break assurances; wage increases ranging from 21-32% over the life of the agreements, with Sutter hospitals bargaining their first contract receiving as much as 25-55% increases, with additional step increases; differentials for weekends and charge nurse duties; and tuition reimbursements.
RNS from across 16 Northern California health facilities have been bargaining with Sutter Health management for 21 months for safer staffing, pandemic readiness protections, and workplace violence protections, according to California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU).
More than 8,000 nurses staged a one-day strike last April to call attention to Sutter Health's "refusal to accept nurses' common-sense proposals for improved nurse and patient safety," said the CNA/NNU.
"We have been on the front lines before and during this pandemic," Amy Erb, a critical care RN at California Pacific Medical Center of San Francisco, said shortly before last year's one-day strike. "Throughout this time, we have witnesses Sutter Health become profitable while they refuse to invest in the resources we need in order for us to provide safe and effective care to our patients and community."
The agreement at ABSMC is effective through November 2027, while the agreements at the other Sutter hospitals run through December 2026.
"I am so happy that ABSMC members have a contract," said Paula Lyn, RN and a CNA board member. "All Sutter nurses deserve our congratulations."
“We didn’t get everything we wanted, but we made important gains to retain staff, and stop them from fleeing to other facilities.”
— Ann Gaebler, neonatal ICU RN, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center
Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.
Alta Bates Summit Medical Center RNs ratified a collective bargaining agreement, ending a lengthy systemwide fight with Sutter Health.
RNs from across 16 Northern California health facilities have been bargaining with Sutter Health management for 21 months.
Issues included safer staffing, pandemic readiness protections, and workplace violence protections.