Nurses at Dignity Health facilities reach tentative labor agreement

More than 14,000 registered nurses at Dignity Health facilities in California and Nevada have reached a tentative, four-year labor agreement that includes increased COVID-19 protections, boosted staffing and wage hikes among other perks.

The nurses are represented by the California Nurses Association and National Nurses Organizing Committee. Their current contract expired in June.

Locally, they work at California Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles, Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center, St. Mary Medical Center Long Beach, Community Hospital of San Bernardino and St. Bernardine Medical Center, also in San Bernardino.

The tentative agreement includes stronger infectious disease prevention measures, according to Sandy Reding, an RN negotiator with the union and organizing committee.

“As we face yet another surge of COVID-19 patients filling up our hospitals, we are proud to have achieved additional health and safety protections for our RNs and patients,” she said

Reding said the hospitals took far too long to obtain medical-grade N95 masks — masks she said were readily available for use.

“I think the pandemic just exposed the inadequacies of our healthcare system,” Reding said. “I don’t think there’s a nursing shortage, we’re just losing nurses who are unwilling to work under the conditions that exist now.”

Representatives with Dignity Health could not be reached for comment Friday.

The tentative agreement includes increased staffing, stronger health protection measures for nurses and patients and wages increases, among other perks. (Photo courtesy of the California Nurses Association and National Nurses Organizing Committee)

Nurses will vote in the coming weeks on the labor proposal, which also includes  health care benefits to improve staffing.

Kathy Dennis, a nursing negotiator and CNA board member, said the union hopes the new contract will allow the medical facilities to better recruit and retain RNs to maximize patient safety.

Other highlights of the agreement include:

— More union input on workplace violence prevention

— Increased tuition reimbursement for nursing education

— No takeaways for pensions or retiree health

— A 13.5% wage increase over four years

— An agreement to fight racial injustice and health care disparities within the community

— A shared vision on health care

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