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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

UC, nurses reach contract agreement

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Headline: UC, nurses reach contract agreement

Layercake: Nearly one year negotiation ends with both sides pleased

By ANNA OPALKA

Aggie News Writer

After 11 months of negotiations, the University of California and the California Nurses Association recently agreed to a new multiyear contract for registered nurses at the 10 UC campuses and five medical centers.

Beth Kean, director of the University of California division of the CNA, said the agreement came at the end of the mediation process, averting a possible strike.

The university is very pleased that we were able to reach agreement with CNA on a new contract that appropriately rewards our nurses for the hard work they do at UC medical centers every day, said UC spokesperson Nicole Savickas in an e-mail interview. She added that the contract will go into effect once UC receives the official signature from CNA.

The UC, which operates the largest health science and medical training program in the country, announced the tentative agreement Mar. 17, and the contract was officially ratified by CNA on Mar. 25.

The CNA union represents over 10,000 registered nurses employed by the UC, including the approximately 1,800 nurses employed by the UC Davis medical center and main campus.

It’s a three-year contract with a lot of improvements in nurses’ working conditions and patient care, as well as setting salaries for the first year and protecting benefits for the first year, said Kean.

Highlights include a 6 percent across-the-board wage increase, pension and health care benefit protection, said Carol Majeski, chief nurse negotiator for the UC Davis medical center.

Kean said the contract also addresses sick time and rotational issues.

One of the biggest successes from our point of view was we were able to stop the implementation of ‘paid time off’ that would have eliminated the same-day sick leave benefit that nurses currently have, she said.

PTO is an attendance control policy that would have forced nurses to come to work sick, instead of staying home when they are ill, she said. It would have been bad for patient care, bad for coworkers and bad for the workers.

The new contract also eliminated the use of mandatory shift rotation in UC medical centers.

Under mandatory shift rotations, nurses work the day shift one day, and the night shift the next, Kean said.

The nurses are basically jetlagged, she said. People must be very alert to catch changes in patients and to double and triple check medications.

We consider this contract to be a turning point in eliminating shift rotations entirely at UC. We do not believe shift rotation is in any way pro-patient or pro-nurse, Kean said.

This is a very important contract in California and also nationally, Kean said. [UC employs] the largest group of university-contract registered nurses in the United States. With 10,000 nurses, it’s huge.

[The contract] was overwhelmingly positive, said union negotiator Majeski, who is a registered nurse in interventional radiology at the UC Davis Medical Center.

It was a long haul, but once we were done, I think both sides were very happy with it, she said.

ANNA OPALKA can be reached at campus@californiaaggie.com.XXX

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