Cape Cod Healthcare, nurses come to tentative agreement
BARNSTABLE — Following a 10-hour bargaining session Wednesday and nine months of negotiations, Cape Cod Healthcare announced an agreement with Massachusetts Nurses Association representatives from Cape Cod Hospital and Falmouth Hospital on contract terms.
“This agreement reflects a shared commitment to safe, effective patient care and fair salaries and benefits for our nursing staff,” the CCHC press release said.
“The contract, which still requires ratification by MNA members, offers our nurses wages and benefits that are among the best in the marketplace, as well as a continued commitment to staffing patterns that support the delivery of the highest quality of care,” the statement said. “At the same time, it is a prudent contract that balances the long-term financial needs of the health care system and considers the declining reimbursements we are likely to face going forward.”
Shannon Sherman, chairwoman of the MNA local bargaining unit, said Wednesday she believes the nurses will ratify the contract when they meet in about two weeks.
“We fought really long and hard and I hope they’ll agree,” she said. Both sides made concessions, she said.
The hospital agreed to hire a few more nurses, provide small raises for existing nurses and a higher pay rate for newly hired staff, she said.
Sherman said she would have liked stronger language on mandatory overtime, but the hospital as agreed to a staffing committee to deal with that issue.
“I have high hopes the hospital will work with the nurses as they said they would,” Sherman said.
During more than nine months of negotiations, CCHC’s management team made every effort to balance long-term financial considerations with a contract that met employee needs. The agency agreed to cap mandatory overtime at 12 shifts per year, or three per quarter, one of the main issues raised by the nurses.
“We are proud of our ability to provide safe, world-class health care to our community and remain committed to attracting and retaining the most talented healthcare professionals in the Commonwealth,” Michael Lauf, CCHC’s President and CEO, said. “We believe this process has resulted in improved communication and a shared commitment to providing the best patient care possible. We thank the MNA negotiating team for collaborating with us to reach this agreement, and for the wonderful care they have always provided to our patients.”
(from The Cape Codder)
Cape nurses set to vote on contract
The nurses’ union at Cape Cod and Falmouth hospitals has endorsed a new three-year contract after health care administrators agreed to increase pay and limit mandatory overtime.
Union negotiators came to an agreement with Cape Cod Healthcare, the parent company of the hospitals, on Wednesday. The health care organization made the announcement Thursday.
The next step is for the 900-plus nurses to vote on the contract, said Shannon Sherman, a Cape Cod Hospital nurse and representative to the Massachusetts Nurses Association.
She said the vote probably will happen within the next two weeks.
The proposed contract limits mandatory overtime — but not as much as the nurses’ union would like.
Hospital administrators agreed to limit mandatory overtime shifts to three per quarter or 12 per year.
"Before, there was unlimited mandatory overtime," David Schildmeier of the nurses association said. He said nurses working 16-hour shifts feared patient safety could get compromised.
Hospital administrators made an oral agreement that any mandatory overtime shift would have to be limited to four hours but did not put deal in writing, Sherman said. She said that after 10 months of negotiating the nurses are "satisfied" with the contract but are disappointed that the hospital would not agree to post a security guard at the Cape Psych Center, which is in a separate building across the parking lot from Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis.
Sherman said several nurses have been injured on duty dealing with unruly patients as the demand for mental health services increases.
Michael Lauf, president and CEO of Cape Cod Healthcare, said the company is hiring a security consultant to look at security issues at the hospitals as well as the psych center.
To deal with staffing shortages, the hospital has agreed to hire additional staff to add to a floating pool of nurses that fill in where help is needed.
"That was another good compromise," Lauf said. He said it should help deal with an unexpected influx of patients.
Nurses had asked for a 2-percent salary increase in addition to annual step increases based on the number of years they’ve worked.
Instead, union officials agreed to a 2-percent one-time bonus, a 1-percent increase in May 2012 and a 1-percent increase in May 2013.
Under the proposed contract, the nurses also would receive their regular step increases, and an additional step has been added — step 15 — to those at the top of the scale.
This year, nurses moving from step 14 to step 15 would get a 2-percent raise, and in 2013 — the third year of the contract — nurses at step 15 would get an additional 1-percent increase in salary, Schildmeier said.
Under the current contract, a nurse at Step 2 makes $27.28 an hour and a nurse at Step 12 makes $40.61.
"We recognize the value the nurses have as part of our health care team," Lauf said.
(from the Cape Cod Times)