More than three years after its nurses voted to join the California Nurses Association, Queen of the Valley Medical Center and its RNs have reached a tentative agreement on a three-year contract.
The agreement is now subject to a ratification vote by nurses and “the details of the vote will be provided to you by the union,” said a statement from Vanessa de Gier, area director of communications and marketing for Queen of the Valley Medical Center, who said she was speaking for Queen CEO Walt Mickens.
“We have reached a tentative agreement that meets and exceeds community standards,” said Desi Murray, assistant director of collective bargaining with the CNA. “This first contract is a big victory for Queen of the Valley nurses and will help with improved patient care and RN recruitment and retention.”
“We’re very pleased,” said longtime Queen nurse Mary Lou Bahn. She said that negotiators for the CNA and the Queen spent almost all weekend coming to the tentative agreement.
“It was a hardworking group,” she said. “We hope the membership will ratify the contract,” which is for a three-year term, she said.
Bahn said she could not reveal the specifics of the contract yet, but “it’s a competitive package.”
The CNA also informed the hospital that a previously planned strike will not take place Aug. 18.
“We greatly appreciate the hard work and dedication of the bargaining teams throughout this process and look forward to the ratification vote,” wrote de Gier. “We hope you agree that this tentative agreement is something you can be proud of and support and that you vote yes.”
In April 2013, the Queen’s nurses voted to join the California Nurses Association union. However, an agreement about a contract, including pay, benefits and other issues, could not be reached.
Queen nurses held a one-day strike in 2014 to protest the stalled talks. In 2015 they picketed outside the hospital.
In July, St. Joseph Health, the parent company of the Queen, formed a new organization with Providence Health to become Providence St. Joseph Health.
If the Queen’s CNA members agree, the new contract could be ratified as soon as next Tuesday, said Bahn.
Three years later, “there are no bad feelings,” assured Bahn.
At the end of the meeting this past weekend, “everyone shook hands and there were hugs. We even hugged the mediator.”