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Santa Rosa Memorial and Petaluma Valley hospitals avert strike

Hundreds of medical workers at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and Petaluma Valley Hospital reached a tentative labor agreement with hospital administrators Wednesday evening, averting a one-day strike that had been planned for Thursday morning.

Union bargaining committees at both hospitals, which are operated by St. Joseph Health, Sonoma County, unofficially agreed on a 3-year contract after meeting all day Wednesday, union officials said. The workers will meet in the next two weeks for a vote to ratify the contract.

The workers, 680 at Memorial Hospital and 150 at Petaluma Valley, are represented by the National Union of Healthcare Workers. They include licensed vocational nurses, nursing assistants, radiology technicians, clerical workers, secretaries, and food service and janitorial service workers.

“This is a first step in establishing a working relationship between NUHW-represented caregivers and St. Joseph management,” said NUHW President Sal Rosselli.

NUHW has been in negotiations with St. Joseph Health, Sonoma County, which operates both hospitals, since June 2015. It is the first labor contract NUHW is negotiating at Petaluma Valley and the second at Memorial Hospital.

According to NUHW, the agreement includes “mediation of patient care issues to resolve staffing and other problems that affect the quality and timeliness of care.” It also includes wage increases and a health care premium freeze to help retain workers.

Todd Salnas, president of St. Joseph Health, announced the agreement Thursday morning to the boards of trustees of both hospitals.

“This positive outcome was due in no small part to amazing teamwork and a commitment from both bargaining teams to reach agreement and avoid a strike,” Salnas said.

“I greatly appreciate the work of the bargaining teams and look forward to the ratification votes.”

You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at (707) 521-5213 or martin.espinoza@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @renofish.

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