Nurses Vote For Accord By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday August 23, 2005

Registered nurses voted Thursday to settle their strike with the Alta Bates hospital in Berkeley and Summit Alta Bates in Oakland. 

As part of the accord with the California Nurses Association (CNA), the hospitals agreed to replace licensed nurses with RNs in non-relief positions in medical and surgical units, emergency and critical care units and in woman and infant care units. 

Among the provisions of the new three-year contract are signing bonuses of up to $2,000, wage increases of 12 percent over two years, and a new 25-year tenure step with a two percent salary increase over the current 20-year position. 

The contract also creates up to 50 new positions for nurses who want to work 60 percent of regular hours and still receive benefits. The hospital also agreed to pay all medical benefits for employees and to cover health care premiums for retired nurses and their spouses. 

CNA spokesperson Charles Idelson said that the pact was also ratified by nurses at Eden Hospital in Castro Valley, Sutter Solano Medical Center in Vallejo and St. Luke’s in San Francisco. All are members of the Sutter Healthcare system. 

Idelson said that the contract didn’t include all Sutter Hospitals, though both CNA and the non-RN SEIU-United Healthcare Workers-West (UHW-W) have striven for system-wide contracts. 

In a statement, Alta Bates Summit Chief Nursing Officer Viki Ardito, said, “Summit Alta Bates is staffed with the very best nurses. We’ve always committed to providing wages, benefits and a workplace environment that are second to none.” 

The settlement, announced Monday, resolves half the labor problems confronting Sutter Healthcare in the East Bay. The major hurdle remaining is a contract with UHW-W, which represents licensed vocational nurses and other employees. Hospital officials failed to meet with union officials at an Aug. 8 negotiating session.