By an 1138 to 55 margin, unionized employees at Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island voted this week to ratify a new collective bargaining unit agreement for approximately 1,700 nurses, technicians, service and maintenance workers, and clerical staff represented by District 1199 of the New England Health Care Employees Union, SEIU.
Highlights of the new, four-year agreement include:
- Wage increases in all but the first year of the contract to assure competitiveness in the marketplace.
- Availability of three comprehensive health care plan options, with an introduction beginning in 2014 of employee contributions to health care costs.
- For workforce investment, contributions to an education fund overseen by a joint Labor Management committee.
- Introduction of clinical ladders that will afford the opportunity for RN clinical recognition/advancement based on criteria for clinical excellence and professionalism.
- Introduction of new clinical tracks to expand and increase the hospital’s nursing float pool for staffing flexibility.
“This contract reflects a milestone in recognizing that the skills and capacities of our workforce require continual renewal and investment,” said Patrick J. Quinn, executive vice president of District 1199. “This helps assure that Women & Infants will maintain its leadership role advancing women’s health care for our state and region.”
Mark Marcantano, Women & Infants’ chief operating officer, said, “The new agreement will enable Women & Infants to continue as a workplace of choice. It also gives us the opportunity to work together in new ways which will help assure a strong and vibrant future for our hospital in the era of health care reform.”
“We believe that Women & Infants is one of the top places in the nation for women to receive care,” said Wendy Laprade, RNC, 1199 union delegate who is a veteran registered nurse in Women & Infants’ labor and delivery unit, “and to keep us there, we know it will take continued improvement in the skill set of our nursing staff. We are very pleased with the joint commitment to clinical skills building.”
“In adopting a problem solving approach to fluctuating patient volume and shorter patient stays, we found solutions that give employees and the hospital more predictability,” added Marquita Taylor, RN.
Angelleen Peters-Lewis, RN, PhD, senior vice president and chief nursing officer at Women & Infants, said, “This agreement marks a new chapter in a new era of partnership. The spirit manifest here makes us optimistic for the future that we can work together collaboratively and collegially to make new strides in our clinical environment on behalf of the women and newborn children we have the privilege to serve.”
The new contract is effective through November 30, 2016.