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Petaluma hospital nurses reach tentative contract agreement

  • Petaluma Valley Hospital nurses engage in a one-day strike on June 13, 2012 in front of the hospital. (PD File, 2012)

The California Nurses Association, which represents about 170 nurses at Petaluma Valley Hospital, announced a tentative agreement Thursday with St. Joseph Health, which runs the hospital.

CNA negotiators representing more than 900 union nurses at two other St. Joseph hospitals, St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka and St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley, also reached tentative labor agreements. Nurses are expected to vote next week on whether or not to ratify the three-year agreement.

“We think it’s a fair contract,” said Desi Murray, a CNA negotiator familiar with the labor dispute in Petaluma. “We will be strongly recommending that the nurses accept the agreement.”

Neither union nor St. Joseph officials would reveal details of the agreement before the nurses had a chance to vote on it. But Murray said both sides were able to resolve disputes related to health benefits and shift differentials.

Some of the labor issues that were resolved are similar to those at play in the current negotiations between nurses and Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, a St. Joseph hospital whose nurses are represented by a different union, the local Staff Nurses Association.

“We’re very pleased with how collaborative the CNA has been in resolving this contract,” said Debra Miller, St. Joseph’s vice president for human resources.

“We’re hopeful that we’ll have similar collaboration and eventual agreement with our nurses represented by the Staff Nurses Association at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital,” she said.

Murray expressed hope the CNA agreement would have “a positive impact” on the negotiations between Memorial and the Staff Nurses Association.

“We want them to reach a fair settlement just like we have achieved,” Murray said.

The nurses at Petaluma Valley have been without a contract since Dec. 1. Murray said the agreement includes wage increases for union nurses.

“Some of the ‘take-aways’ that were on the table in Petaluma have been resolved and removed,” Murray added.

Miller said the agreement with CNA nurses follows intense negotiations in the last few days, the last session lasting 24 hours. She said St. Joseph also learned Thursday that a labor agreement with Local 39 Operating Engineers has been ratified by that union.

Local 39 represents building equipment workers at both Memorial and Petaluma Valley hospitals who operate heating, ventilation, air conditioning, electrical and nurse call systems, as well as perform carpentry and painting work.

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