Nurses on verge of new contract |

Nurses on verge of new contract

Registered nurses at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital are expected to ratify a new labor contract that guarantees them annual raises of at least 6 percent and puts a ban on mandatory overtime except during declared emergencies.

Employer-paid benefits also would be provided for registered nurses who retire at age 55.

The agreement reached Tuesday between the California Nurses Association and Catholic Healthcare West, the parent company of Sierra Nevada Memorial, covers 4,000 registered nurses at 11 California hospitals. It replaces an agreement that expired June 30.

“Catholic Healthcare West was very pleased to work collaboratively with CNA on this agreement,” said local hospital spokesman Gary Cooke.

The agreement covers 220 registered nurses at Sierra Nevada Memorial.

Cooke said the agreement will help retain and attract qualified nursing candidates to the hospital.

“With this contract, (the parent company) believes we are in a good competitive position to continue retaining top-quality registered nurses.”

The hospital’s budget includes projected raises for the unionized nurses and isn’t expected to hurt its bottom line, Cooke said.

For the first time, the agreement grants a pension plan for Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital nurses, Cooke said.

Under terms of the agreement, nurses at the 121-bed hospital will receive salary increases of 7 percent each of the first two years of the contract and 6 percent in the final year of the deal, which expires July 1, 2007.

California Nurses Association spokesman Charles Idelson said the contract will ultimately improve patient care conditions.

“It improves their care conditions so that nurses can feel they can practice their profession safely for their patients and themselves,” he said.

Ratification of the contract by the nurses will be done at a later date, Idelson said.

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