Bargaining Update - CNA Negotiations


09.10.2017

Palomar Health met with the California Nurses Association (CNA) on September 8 for continued contract negotiations. Once again, the Union chose to spend time in the morning asking employees to support a strike, instead of preparing to bargain toward an agreement. CNA did not have any proposals ready for us until approximately 1:45 p.m. Palomar Health bargaining team members had arrived at 8:00 a.m., well-prepared and focused only on reaching a new contract. 

Palomar Health continues to compromise during the bargaining process. For example, we had previously proposed to change the Emergency Room copay for the HMO plan from $100 to $200 per visit. Higher ER copays are becoming more common due to patients’ overuse of emergency departments. Now, we have proposed no increase in the Emergency Room copay.  We also made additional recent concessions as part of good faith bargaining.      

Unfortunately, we continue to see little to no movement from the Union.  It appears that CNA is not interested in reaching a deal any time soon. The only economic “concession” CNA made was to give up Cesar Chavez Day as a holiday.  This is not really a concession, since Cesar Chavez Day is not currently considered a holiday in the contract.  In fact, the Union is still demanding to add two more minor holidays that have never been in the contract. 

At this late stage, while we are trying to bring negotiations to a close, CNA wants us to spend time negotiating an entirely new and unnecessary article.  The Union stated that the purpose of the article is to prevent Palomar Health from claiming that Charge Nurses are supervisors.  However, the Union admitted this has never been an issue at Palomar Health.  In fact, CNA could not name any hospital where this has been a concern.  We believe the parties’ time would be better spent focusing on actual priorities and not delaying an agreement.   

We are offering a fair and reasonable contract to our Registered Nurses.  We would like to provide these pay increases and other enhancements sooner rather than later. These competitive wages, benefits, and working conditions include:

Compensation:  Registered Nurses’ average pay would increase by more than 4.25% by January 1, with additional guaranteed increases two times per year:
1.   The first day of the pay period after this contract is ratified – a pay increase of 1.0%.
2.   The first day of the pay period after this contract is ratified – each employee shall receive his/her pay step increase.  (The average step percent increase exceeds 2%).
3.   The first day of the pay period in January 2018 – an additional pay increase of 1.25%.
4.   The first day of the pay period in July 2018, and in July of any subsequent years this contract is in effect – an additional pay increase of 1.0%.
5.  The first day of the pay period in July 2018, and in July of any subsequent years this contract is in effect – each employee shall receive his/her pay step increase. 
6.  The first day of the pay period in January 2019, and any subsequent years this contract is in effect – an additional pay increase of 1.0%.

Equity Increases:  Additional pay increases above and beyond what the parties agree to in the contract, to ensure our salaries remain competitive.

Critical Staffing Incentive Program: This expanded, voluntary program would provide RNs with opportunities to earn valuable bonus awards for helping fill critical shifts. RNs who work shifts designated as “critical need” shifts would earn 25% more per hour, on average. 

Standby Pay:  Increasing, from $7 to $8 an hour.

Retirement Benefits: Continued employer contributions of 6.0% to the 401(a) plan, 6.50% contributions for employees with 15+ years of service, and continued matching contributions to the 457(b) deferred comp plan. These are financially generous, extremely competitive retirement contributions.

Retiree Benefits:  No changes to retiree benefits, while other employers are reducing or eliminating these contributions. 

Free Parking:  A continued commitment to provide our employees with free parking options.

Tuition Reimbursement:  25% higher tuition reimbursement rates.

Tools, Resources and Equipment:  The parties reached a tentative agreement to address these important issues.

Palomar Health greatly appreciates our wonderful Registered Nurses, who work tirelessly to care for our patients and community. 

Unfortunately, there is no question that a strike would impact patients. Further, strikes do not bring two sides closer together. We firmly believe that the best avenue for Palomar Health and CNA to resolve their differences is through compromise and collaboration at the bargaining table.  We look forward to our next meeting on September 14.   


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