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    Santa Clara County nurses reach deal on pay, worker safety

    By Brandon Pho,

    30 days ago

    Santa Clara County’s public hospital nurses have reached a deal with management after a contentious labor dispute rocked the region’s health system.

    More than 88% of the Registered Nurses Professional Association’s roughly 4,000 members voted this week to ratify a tentative four-year agreement that will go before the Board of Supervisors on June 4 for final approval. For months, nurses and county leaders were at odds over pay raises, worker safety and a controversial proposal to float nurses between different hospitals. The dispute reached a breaking point in April when thousands of nurses went on strike – forcing the county to spend more than $20 million on traveling nurses to keep hospitals running. The strike ended after three days as contract talks continued behind closed doors.

    “Our new contract is a big step forward for Santa Clara County nurses and the patients we serve. We were able to win improvements to our pay and working conditions that will help the county recruit and retain top quality nurses,” RNPA President Susie York said in statement Saturday. “We also addressed the way nurses are staffed and scheduled in order to ensure that acuity remains a factor in the nurse-to-patient ratio.”

    The tentative deal grants nurses a 15% compounded raise over four years, though county nurses had previously asked for 15% over three years. Union leaders said the idea to float nurses between hospitals appears to be off the table after they voiced concern that the county’s hospitals vary too much in their policies and cultures.

    Earlier this week, public sector nurses across San Francisco avoided a summer strike with a tentative agreement with officials for a 17.5% raise over three years. In Santa Clara County, a $250 million budget deficit — which officials propose to close this summer through new revenues and reductions — presented officials a major roadblock in trying to meet nurses’ requests. In August, the closure of life-saving services at one of the county’s only trauma units at Regional Medical Center in East San Jose will put a deluge of new patients on the county’s already-overburdened hospitals.

    York said discussions with the county will be ongoing.

    “We set the groundwork for better workplace safety practices,” York said.

    County executive James Williams said the new deal resolves an issue impacting the most vulnerable residents in Santa Clara County – uninsured patients who without the public hospitals would have nowhere to go for care.

    “We are proud to have reached this agreement, which upholds the county’s commitment to our hardworking nurses and to deliver excellent care to the community while balancing fiscal realities,” Williams said. “We look forward to working together with RNPA and our nurses to continue providing critical services for our entire community and to meet the challenges faced by those most in need.”

    Contact Brandon Pho at [email protected] or @brandonphooo on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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