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.