Photo courtesy of California Nurses Association.
According to a press release issued by the California Nurses Association (CNA), registered nurses at Community Hospital in Long Beach (CHLB) voted to approve their first-ever collective bargaining agreement yesterday, Tuesday, December 30.
“One of our primary goals has been to win a fair wage structure that rewards nurses for service so that we can recruit and retain the experienced nurses our patients deserve," said Sherine Cooper, an RN at the hospital’s Heart Center, in a statement. "With this contract we have laid the foundation for a better future."
In an effort to improve their existing standards, the RNs successfully negotiated an agreement that did not, as is often the case, involve substantial cuts or living standards in the workplace. Under the agreement, the nurses will elect a team of bedside RNs to meet with the management on a regular basis in order to better address patient care issues, including safe staffing and the introduction of new technology. The agreement also contains provisions that will better accommodate nurses’ pursuit of the continuing education required by their nursing license.
The agreement also implements a pay scale that increases based on years of experience, not “arbitrary management whim,” as well as other economic gains, including secure health insurance and retirement benefits, according to the press release. Nurses are set to receive an immediate three to six percent wage increase in January and up to 16 percent over the three-year course of the contract.
“From the beginning, this has always been about our ability to provide safe patient care," said Jackie McKay, an RN at at the hospital’s intensive care unit. "Nurses at Community Hospital Long Beach are thrilled to have a contract that gives nurses a voice in staffing and patient care and improves our ability to advocate for our patients."
In December 2012, 150 nurses at CHLB voted to join the CNA, therefore affiliating with their CNA-represented colleagues at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center.
"Congratulations to the nurses at Community Hospital Long Beach for standing strong to protect their living and workplace standards for their patients, their colleagues, and their families. We are proud of you," said Zenei Cortez, an RN and CNA Co-President, in a statement.