A planned strikes by nurses against Dignity Health hospitals in Northridge, Oxnard and Camarillo was averted Friday when their union and Dignity Health tentatively agreed on a new contract after five months of negotiations.
According to SEIU Local 121RN, the union representing the nurses, the new contract calls for:
— stronger contractual guarantees to address the hospitals’ security problems;
— an agreement to meet with registered nurses and study the impact of any reduction of support staff; and
— other safe staffing improvements, such as ensuring that the registered nurse responsible for handling incoming ambulances is not also given a patient load.
The contract also prevents the “floating” of nurses to certain departments in the hospital unless they have been specifically trained and validated to work there, according to Hal Weiss, a communications specialist with the union.
“Our nurses were unified and ready to walk out and onto the strike line, right up until the last moment over these life-or-death issues,” said Gayle Batiste, SEIU Local 121RN president, a member of the bargaining Team that negotiated the contract and a certified operating room nurse at Northridge Hospital Medical Center.
“These improvements will help us maintain safe, secure hospitals where nurses can work without fear so that our patients can heal.”
The contract still needs approval by union membership to go into effect.
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