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Henry Mayo nurses ratify new contract

Union officials decline to reveal details of agreement

Posted: May 10, 2012 6:07 p.m.
Updated: May 10, 2012 6:07 p.m.

Nurses at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital have overwhelmingly accepted a new contract for higher wages and an end to a nursing strategy called "team nursing," officials on both sides of the bargaining table confirmed Thursday.

The hospital's 450 registered nurses, who have been working without a contract since February, voted Wednesday to accept a tentative agreement, said Louie Rada, spokesman for the California Nurses Association and the National Nurses United, with which local nurses are affiliated.

On Wednesday, they filed into the hospital's cafeteria conference room to vote on a three-year bargaining agreement with hospital administrators, he said.
At least 94 percent of voting nurses voted in favor of the contract.

Nurses showing up to vote had a chance to see how much more money they would be making with the proposed contract, Rada said. And, they had a chance to see what was negotiated to address patient care and nurse licensing protection.

Rada would not say how much more money nurses are now expected to receive under the new contract.

A registered nurse with 25 years of experience is paid $50.74 an hour, according to the California Nurses Association.

Hospital officials reported Thursday they are happy with the contract ratification.

"The nursing staff at Henry Mayo is vital to the health of our patients, our hospital and our community," said Mark Puleo, vice president of human resources.

"We are delighted that we were able to work through this process and come up with an agreement that puts the health and well-being of our patients first."

Since Feb. 29, nurses had been working without a contract.
Last April, hospital administrators announced they would abandon their team nursing program and introduce a more intimate model that allows nurses more time with fewer patients, hospital officials announced at the time.

Under team nursing, a registered nurse was teamed with a licensed vocational nurse, or LVN. Together, the team handled more patients than an RN would handle by himself or herself.

The hospital's registered nurses opposed the team nursing model, saying it increased their workload and potentially endangered patient safety.

The new contract spells out a patient care mandate as a "primary nursing care concept."

"Our new union contract is definitely stronger than our last one," Registered Nurse Robbie Bailey said in a prepared statement, "We have the necessary language we need to transition back to a primary nursing care concept by January of 2012, good wage increases for all and most importantly, we don't have any take-aways."




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