The registered nurses represented by the MNA at Quincy Medical Center (QMC) voted on April 3 to ratify a new two-year contract that provides wage increases of 12 to 16 percent, while calling for additional nursing positions to improve the quality of patient care. It also includes new contract language designed to protect nurses’ union rights.
“We are pleased to have reached an agreement that will provide a competitive pay scale with other area hospitals, while also recognizing the need to add nursing staff to ensure our patients get the care they deserve,” said Paula Ryan, RN, a staff nurse at the hospital and chair of the nurses’ local bargaining unit. “The nurses at this hospital have been working extremely hard under strenuous conditions to ensure the highest quality care during times of financial difficulty. This agreement strikes a responsible balance, providing the hospital with the resources it needs while also recognizing the fact that recruiting and retaining qualified nurses is the key to the hospital’s future success.” The two-year agreement runs from Jan. 1, 2007 to Nov. 31, 2008. The pact includes the following key provisions:
- Salary increase: Provides an 8.5 percent salary increase across the board (2 percent retroactive to Jan.21, 2007; 2 percent in Oct. 2007; 2 percent in Aug. 2008 and 2.5 percent in Oct. 2008). In addition, the contract provides a 16-step salary scale where most nurses will receive an additional 4 percent increase on their anniversary date of hire for each of the two years of the agreement. As a result, nurses’ pay will increase between 12 and 16 percent over the life of the agreement depending on years of service. The starting hourly wage at the end of the contract will be $26.72 up from $24.57 with a top wage step of $50 up from $44.68.
- Creation of new resource nurse positions: The contract also includes a provision creating new “resource nurse” positions to be added to the emergency department, same day surgery, medical/surgical and telemetry floors. These nurses will augment the existing staff on these foors and be charged with coordinating the flow of patients on the units, assisting with the admission and discharge of patients, and assisting nurses with more difficult cases.
- Protection of union rights: The nurses won contract language that protects union rights for nurses at the facility and their ability to advocate for patients. The language— the first of its kind for hospitals on the South Shore—prevents the hospital from exploiting a recent controversial ruling by the National Labor Relations Board, which found that charge nurses (nurses who oversee the flow of patients on a floor) or nurses who perform charge duties may be classified as supervisors and are thereby ineligible for union membership. The new language clearly recognizes the union rights of all nurses in the union.
The Quincy Medical Center nurses began negotiations on the new contract on Aug. 1, 2006, with a tentative agreement reached on March 26.