Health & Fitness

Pay raises, tuition reimbursement in new deal with Dignity Health

Nicole McLean-Carson, a resident care assistant at Mercy McMahon Terrace, yells her grievances while union members and health care workers demand higher wages and better benefits from Dignity Health outside of Mercy General Hospital on Wednesday, August 3, 2016.
Nicole McLean-Carson, a resident care assistant at Mercy McMahon Terrace, yells her grievances while union members and health care workers demand higher wages and better benefits from Dignity Health outside of Mercy General Hospital on Wednesday, August 3, 2016. apayne@sacbee.com

After months of picketing, petitions and federal mediation, lab scientists and technologists at Dignity Health announced on Labor Day that their 200-plus members in the Sacramento region had ratified a five-year contract that provides raises of 3 percent annually.

In the labor negotiations, the Engineers and Scientists of California Local 20 represented workers at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Stockton, Woodland Memorial Hospital and Mercy employees at Mercy San Juan in Carmichael, Mercy Folsom as well as Sacramento’s Methodist and Mercy General hospitals. As part of the agreement, all locations will unite for the first time under the Greater Sacramento ESC Local 20 Contract, meaning they will bargain as one unit.

“With all…locations voting ‘yes,’ 130 votes were cast to ratify the tentative media agreement by 88 percent,” Michael Aidan, assistant executive director of ESC Local 20, said in a prepared statement.

Dignity’s negotiators had wanted ESC Local 20 members to begin paying a health-care premium, something that members at St. Joseph’s had begun doing before voting to join Local 20. As part of the deal, the ESC Local 20 statement said, Dignity will be able to begin charging premiums on all Local 20 members in the third year of the contract.

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As part of the agreement, Dignity also will:

Begin work immediately to remedy wage inequities among union members who have the same job descriptions. That means that some workers will receive wage increases of as much as 15 percent to bring them on par with coworkers across the company.

Pay tuition reimbursement of $5,250 annually, up from $3,000 in the 2014-18 contract.

The lab scientists and technologists in this union perform lab tests for tens of thousands of Dignity Health patients, Aidan explained, and when patients meet with their doctors to discuss results, the majority of the conversation is based on the scientists’ findings.

A prepared statement from Dignity Health said: “This agreement honors our commitment to our employees while acknowledging the significant challenges Dignity Health and employers across the U.S. face with the increasing cost of health care.”

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