Bargaining Update - CNA Negotiations


Palomar Health met with the California Nurses Association (CNA) on July 27 for continued contract negotiations. The parties discussed the following topics:
  • Article 13 – Compensation 
  • Article 15 – Standby and Call Back Pay
  • Article 16 – Pension 
  • Article “X” [new proposed article] – Community Health Needs

Palomar Health has been increasing its salary proposals over the past several meetings.  On June 22, we proposed a first year Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) increase of .75%.  On July 7, we increased that to 1.25%.  On July 13, we increased that again to 1.50%.  Of course, we have offered many other economic and non-economic improvements as well.  These include, but are not limited to:
  • Float Pool Registered Nurse differential increasing from $5 per hour to $7.30 per hour;
  • Offering a Weekend Shift differential for the first time (an additional $1.00 per hour);  
  • Increasing tuition reimbursement amounts by 25%;
  • A Critical Staffing Incentive program with bonuses of $135.00 per eligible shift; and
  • Tentative agreements on nine (9) subjects, including a new article devoted entirely to “Resources, Tools, & Equipment.”

Despite all these increases, the Union began the meeting by refusing to lower its salary demands at all. CNA once again demanded increases of 3.25% twice per year, in addition to numerous other multi-million dollar requests throughout the contract.  

Based on feedback from CNA’s bargaining team, we concluded that the Union wanted to see higher salary increases. In response, we presented the following counterproposal:
  • On the first day of the pay period after the contract is ratified, all Registered Nurses would receive a 3.6% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) increase. 
  • On the first day of the pay period beginning after June 1 of any subsequent years the contract is in effect, all Registered Nurses would receive a 3.0% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) increase (up to $59.96/hour for a Clin RN II and $61.79/hour for a Clin RN III).  
  • All Registered Nurses would be eligible for the 3.6% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) increase, even if they are already at the top of the pay scale.  Thereafter, RNs at the top of the pay scale would be eligible for a bonus each July 1 of $1,500.00, prorated by their FTE (ex: $1,500 x 0.5 = $750).

Under Palomar Health’s proposal, Registered Nurses would continue to be placed on the salary grid in accordance with current practice. However, these higher Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) increases would be instead of the percent increases between steps.  We believe it is simpler and more transparent to provide these significantly higher salary increases, which are clearly visible in the contract.    

Regrettably, the Union issued a bargaining update yesterday that misrepresented Palomar Health’s proposals. For example, all RNs would receive a 3.6% pay increase after contract ratification, not 1.53% as CNA had reported. In addition, the Union failed to acknowledge that we proposed additional economic improvements yesterday.  For instance, CNA had stated that increasing call back pay is a priority.  In the last contract, we were able to increase call back pay from $6 an hour to $7 an hour.  CNA’s bargaining update omitted that we offered to further increase mandatory and voluntary call back pay from $7 to $8 an hour.

As stated above, the 3.0% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) increases would be paid in June. This is a full six (6) months earlier, compared to increases historically made in January.  In order to help fund the substantial salary increases that CNA identified as a priority, we have proposed a modest 0.5% reduction in pension contributions. Our proposed 5.5% contribution to the Fidelity §401(a) plan still represents a significant, financially generous, and competitive pension contribution. Employees with 15 or more years of service would still receive an additional contribution of 0.5%.  Further, we would continue our generous contributions to the §457 deferred compensation plan.  As part of Palomar Health’s comprehensive compensation package, we contribute the following amounts to that additional plan:
  • 1-9 years of service: $.50 for $1.00 match of employee contribution up to 2% of base salary 
  • 10-15 years of service: $1.00 per $1.00 match of employee contribution up to 2% of base salary
  • 16+ years of service: $1.50 for each $1.00 of employee contribution up to 2% of base salary. \

CNA repeated its same proposals on nine (9) articles without making any changes, except:
  • The Union stated they are “willing to give up” Columbus Day as a holiday.  This is not really a concession, as Columbus Day was not considered a holiday in the contract that recently expired. 
  • The Union asked to create an “RN Community Corps” with a minimum of four full-time CNA bargaining unit Registered Nurses to work in the community.  Previously they asked for five RNs.

The parties remain far apart in their positions. The Union’s proposals continue to exceed what is financially supportable by several multiples.  

Palomar Health is dedicated to reaching a fair and equitable contract that protects the interests of the health system and our patients while rewarding our Registered Nurses. We remain committed to bargaining in good faith throughout the negotiation process. Although we requested earlier dates, CNA would not agree to return to the bargaining table until August 10.  We look forward to our next meeting. 

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