News & Events

Cape Cod and Falmouth Hospital nurses vote to ratify new contract

Pact provides limits on the use of mandatory overtime, staffing improvements

From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
June/July 2011 Edition

The registered nurses of Cape Cod and Falmouth Hospitals voted recently to ratify a new three-year contract that includes improvements in working conditions sought by the nurses to improve patient care at the facility.

“We are relieved to have completed this agreement and we are hopeful that it will lead to better care for the patients we care for every day,” said Shannon Sherman, RN, co-chair of the nurses’ local bargaining unit. “I applaud the nurses of Cape Cod and Falmouth Hospitals for standing up throughout this process for their patients and their profession.”

“In these tough economic times, we were able to achieve important gains, specifically to the quality of our working conditions, which was our primary objective,” said Nicky Powderly, chair of the Falmouth Hospital nurses’ local bargaining unit. “With this agreement, everyone is a winner, particularly our patients.”

The three-year agreement runs from Oct. 1, 2010 to Sept. 30, 2013. The pact includes the following key provisions:

Strict limits on mandatory overtime. Cape Cod Healthcare has agreed to significantly limit the use of mandatory overtime as a staffing mechanism. No nurse will be assigned mandatory overtime more than three times in a calendar quarter, and no more than once per week. The hospital also agreed to make a concerted effort to limit mandatory overtime to no more than four hours, and a union/management committee has been formed to meet regularly over the next several months to study the issue and come up with long-term solutions to address the causes of mandatory overtime.

Increased staffing to support patients on Cape Cod Hospital’s medical/surgical units. The hospital has agreed to add staff to a pool of nurses who will be assigned to cover for staffing shortages on Cape Cod Hospital’s medical/surgical floors, which will allow the hospital to beef up staffing on units where patients need more care.

Commitment to improve conditions at the CCH psychiatric unit. To address ongoing concerns about staffing and security precautions on the psychiatric unit at Cape Cod Hospital, the contract calls for the formation of a new staffing committee, which will meet two times each month to evaluate and monitor staffing levels, with the goal of assuring that patients receive the appropriate level of care, and that nurses are working in a safe environment. As part of this effort, the hospital has agreed to bring in a national expert on hospital security to evaluate and make recommendations on security measures related to the unit. The contract also allows for outside experts on mental health issues to be consulted by the committee to assist in developing appropriate systems and policies for the unit. According to Sherman, while the nurses had hoped for more immediate improvements in the working conditions for nurses on the psychiatric unit, “This contract places the onus on management to work with us and to be accountable for making all necessary improvements.”

Wage increase. The pact includes a 2 percent bonus for all nurses, retroactive to Oct. 1, 2010, with a 1 percent across-the-board pay raise in 2012; the addition of a new 2 percent step to the top of the pay scale; a 1 percent raise in 2013; and the addition of a 1 percent raise to the top step on the salary scale.

The nurses began negotiations with the hospital in August 2010. For the first time, CCHC management agreed to joint negotiations with the nurses’ bargaining units at Cape Cod and Falmouth Hospitals. The tentative agreement was reached on June 1. n