Nurses maintain paid time off benefits, win enhanced staffing and workplace violence language
In a major victory for Kadlec nurses, the Washington State Nurses Association and Providence Kadlec Regional Medical Center reached a tentative contract agreement last night.
In the face of unprecedented unity — not only at Kadlec but also at Providence hospitals across the state — Providence Kadlec management agreed to maintain paid-time off benefits for currently employed nurses. Providence had proposed slashing the accrual rate for PTO and lowering the cap for accrued hours significantly.
“The nurses at Kadlec stood united, voted to authorize a strike and were deep into strike preparations,” said Vanessa Douglas, a nurse in the ICU at Kadlec and a member of the negotiating team. “Without that unity we would never have been able to fight off the harsh takeaways Providence Kadlec had proposed.”
This was the 16th bargaining session over a 14-month period. The last six of those sessions have been conducted with a federal mediator. On Oct. 29 and 30, Kadlec nurses voted to authorize a strike.
Nurses at Kadlec no longer earn EIB and moved to a short-term disability plan in their last contract. But many nurses retain banks of accrued sick leave hours which Providence threatened to eliminate. The tentative agreement preserves them.
Nurses at Sacred Heart Medical Center and health care workers at some of the other Providence hospitals currently in negotiations are fighting to retain their Earned Illness plans.
The coalition of Providence unions in Washington state includes nurses, tech, and service and maintenance workers in a dozen hospitals represented by WSNA, SEIU 1199NW and UFCW21. Kadlec nurses were among the 15,000 Providence workers who have voted to authorize a strike.
“There is no doubt in my mind that our solidarity across unions made this tentative agreement possible,” said Martha Galvez, a labor and delivery nurse at Kadlec and chair of the WSNA Kadlec local unit. “Four years ago, Providence sat across the bargaining table and made a promise on paid time off and illness banks. It took all of us standing together to make them keep that promise.”
The tentative agreement at Kadlec also includes enhanced staffing and workplace violence language to help keep nurses and patients safe. Total wage increases are 10% over the life of this contract, include an increase of 3% upon ratification and 2.5% on January first, and full-time nurses will receive a bonus of $1,500 upon ratification of the contract, with the bonus prorated for part-time nurses.
Sacred Heart nurses held an unsuccessful mediation session on Friday, Nov. 22, and continue their strike preparations.