Local 5058 members voted overwhelmingly yesterday to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement with Meridian Health. At the same time, Local 5138 members at Southern Ocean Medical Center voted in favor of their settlement with Meridian. The contracts, which both expire July 31, 2017, cover 1,200 RNs represented by the Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE), the state’s largest healthcare union.
The new contract agreement includes staffing improvements and other measures including:
- 7-12% wage increases over the 21-month contract term.
- Staffing improvements at each hospital, including addition of admission and discharge RNs when a unit census increases at SOMC; and review of staffing plans to improve nursing work flow and staff skill mix needed for patient care.
- Improved healthcare and network access, decreases in premiums for a majority of members and maintenance of deductible, prescription, vision and dental costs.
- Restrictions on the hospital floating nurses without proper training and financial incentives for nurses who volunteer to provide care in other units.
- Measures to improve orientation and education of new RNs.
- 100% tuition reimbursement for part-time RNs up to $2,500
Both locals achieved good contracts as a result of membership support and outreach to the community. During the negotiations, nurses met with Township committees and community members to gain support for safe staffing legislation, ran an active social media campaign, and took out a mobile billboard to educate the community about the importance of safe staffing.
“Nurses came out in numbers today to vote for this new contract which recognizes and supports our dedication to providing the best care for patients,” said Ruthann Kosick, R.N., acting president for HPAE Local 5058. “This contract provides incentives and opportunities to advance our nursing skills and includes provisions to monitor and enforce safe staffing throughout our hospitals.”