By Jeanne Sager
HARRIS July 1, 2003 Houston, we have a contract.
After threatening to strike a few weeks ago, the Registered Nurse corps at Catskill Regional Medical Center settled their dispute with hospital administration Thursday and ratified a new contract Friday evening.
The three-year contract stipulates that the hospital will pay 90 percent of the RNs health care premiums a major concern cited during six months of squabbling between administration and the nurses.
According to Mark Genovese, a spokesperson for the New York State Nurses Association, the proposed change to the employee contribution for their health benefits would have essentially wiped out any salary raise given by the hospital.
The new contract binds management to their contribution even if the carrier changes for the life of the contract.
The salary raise put into effect will provide nurses with a 6.5 percent increase in the first year, a 5 percent raise in 2004 and another 5 percent in 2005. Steps added to the experience scale will provide an additional 1.5 percent per year to experienced RNs.
The approved agreement also reduces floating, another major concern cited when nurses voted to strike (a strike that would have been effective today at 7 a.m. if an agreement had not been reached).
Before floating a full-time nurse between floors, supervisors will be required to transfer agency and per-diem RNs temporarily to other units.
As we came closer to the strike date, there really was a sense on both sides that we really would rather come to an agreement than strike, Genovese noted. And we got the advantages we had sought.
The stability and affordability in health care benefits really worked out well, and there was a bonus in there in that they got new steps.
It was a long negotiation, noted CRMC CEO Art Brien. But it was a fruitful negotiation.
The benefit clearly is we dont have to deal with a strike situation which is a benefit to the hospital, the nurses, the community, everyone involved.