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Nurses union ratifies new contract agreement

The Committee for Recognition of Nursing Achievement (CRONA) — an independent nursing union that represents nurses at Stanford Health Care and the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital  — voted on Wednesday to ratify a new contract agreement covering all registered nurses.

The agreement will lead to a 10 to 15 percent increase in nurses’ wages over the next three years, composed of yearly 3 percent wage increases until 2021 as well as retention payments, a one-time $2000 payment and quarterly payments of $375.

“We secured a package of improvements and changes with this agreement,” said CRONA Executive Vice President Kathy Stormberg. She later elaborated, “We want to both have protections for nurses and provide ways to allow nurses to continue to be supported in their profession… and at the same time be able to maintain a work-life balance.”

Stormberg said that over two-thirds of CRONA’s membership voted in favor of the agreement and noted that some terms of the agreement will “take place immediately” while others will be implemented following logistical meetings with management.

“We are extremely pleased that a majority of our CRONA-represented nurses voted to ratify the tentative agreement signed and endorsed by their union,” said Stanford Health Care and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital leadership in a written statement. “The new contract provides significant improvements, including compensation increases during the three-year term, excellent retirement benefits, enhanced staff safety training programs and many other improvements our nurses indicated were important.”

Amid stalled negotiations with the hospitals over wage increases and workplace safety standards, CRONA first authorized a strike on April 10. By April 30, after renewed negotiations had begun four days prior, Stanford hospitals and CRONA arrived at a tentative plan. In a joint statement, the two parties announced that they had reached a three-year collective bargaining agreement which both fully supported.

In an online post made the day the tentative agreement was reached, CRONA stated that the union’s goal through these negotiations was “to get an agreement that protects and supports Nurses,” and that the agreement “achieved that.”

“With this agreement,” the post continued, “CRONA has secured an overall economic package and strong workplace protections that put our Nurses ahead of other hospitals in the Bay Area.”

The agreement will protect vacation and attendance policies and improve labor conditions, promising an 80/20 split between full-time and part-time nurses. It also ensures that the hospitals will train nurses on workplace violence and gives them the enforceable right to — if threatened by a patient or a patient’s family — be reassigned to a different one.

In a previous statement to The Daily, an outpatient nurse in radiology from Stanford Health described some of the conditions this policy aims to improve.

“A nurse will say, ‘Let me show you the scar from when I was assaulted several years ago, or let me tell you about the nurse on my unit who was assaulted last week, or let me tell you about the horrible shift I spent enduring being called a racial slur by a patient and there wasn’t anything I could do about it or I felt like there was nothing I could do,’” the outpatient nurse explained.

The new agreement, however, includes “groundbreaking protections for workplace violence,” Stormberg said.

“As Stanford and Packard Hospitals are setting the bar for patient care, we want for our nurses to set the bar for standards in nursing as well,” she said. “We think workplace violence language helps to do that, and we hope it will be a model for others.”

Despite a hard-won agreement being reached after weeks of disagreement, however, Stormberg emphasized that CRONA’s work is far from over.

“It’s important to get good contract language, and it’s equally important to make sure it is implemented and enforced,” she said. “So we are already working on it.”

This report has been updated to include comment from Stanford Health Care and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital leadership.

Holden Foreman and Brian Contreras contributed to this report.

Contact Sammy Mohammed at sammym ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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