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UC nurses approve five-year contract with 15 percent wage increases

Union representative Shirley Toy got nurses ready to rally at an informational picket at UC Davis Medical Center in January. The 14,000 registered nurses in the union, the California Nurses Association, approved a new contract late Friday.
Union representative Shirley Toy got nurses ready to rally at an informational picket at UC Davis Medical Center in January. The 14,000 registered nurses in the union, the California Nurses Association, approved a new contract late Friday. Courtesy of California Nurses Association

The California Nurses Association reported Monday that registered nurses at the University of California have voted overwhelmingly to ratify a five-year contract that includes pay increases totaling 15 percent over the life of the deal.

The new contract becomes effective immediately, union officials said, and besides wages, includes clauses that ensured nurses would not be assigned to areas requiring specialty expertise without proper training, granted greater protections for nurses working on a daily contractual basis and required UC facilities to have a comprehensive plan to manage workplace violence. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that hospital workers face a far greater risk of violent incidents than other workers in private industry.

“Nurses stood together in solidarity and fought back over 60 takeaways that would have directly affected our ability to care for our patients,” said Megan Norman, a registered nurse at UC Davis Health. “We won new language addressing infectious disease and hazardous substances as well as stronger protections around workplace violence and sexual harassment.”

UC’s Vice President of Human Resources Dwaine B. Duckett said: “This agreement supports the continuing hard work and dedication of our nurses. We are grateful for their service to UC, to patients, and to communities across California.”

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UC leaders said nurses will continue to receive health benefits at the same rates as other UC employees, with a limit of $25 per month on premium increases for those covered by the Kaiser and Blue & Gold health plans. New hires will also maintain the same retirement benefits as current nurses until April 2020, after which either side may reopen the issue, UC leaders noted.

The UC remains in protracted negotiations with patient-care and service units of AFSCME Local 3299 and research, technical and health-care units of the University Professional and Technical Employees, CWA 9119. Last week, AFSCME announced that its patient-care members would vote on whether to strike, as the service unit did in May.

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