bolt communications, karen bolt, public relations, advertising, business writing

Nurses, hospital sign new contract

Four-year agreement includes 12.5% pay raise

Representatives from Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital spoke at a Tele-Town Hall last Friday.

Local registered nurses and the board of directors of Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital agreed to a new contract that “includes victories for patients and nurses,” according to the medical employees’ union.

Nurses represented by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United ratified the four-year contract on July 27, according to an announcement from the labor organization. The new collective bargaining agreement was ratified with 98% of the RNs’ support.

“Winning a strong contract means improvements for nursing staff that helps ensure nurses who work here and live here can stay in Hollister,” said Sonia Duran, RN, a member of the bargaining team. “As the only acute care facility in San Benito County, investing in retention and recruitment of nursing staff is crucial to continue to provide quality healthcare for our community.”

The San Benito Health Care District board of directors voted to approve the contract at the July 28 meeting, according to a HHMH spokesperson. The Hollister hospital’s CEO, Steve Hannah, said in a statement that the July 28 vote was unanimous.

“Nurses are the cornerstone of quality and compassionate patient care,” Hannah said. “We know our Hazel Hawkins nurses set us apart from other hospitals.”

The contract includes an “across-the-board” wage increase of 12.5% for all RNs at HHMH over the course of the four-year contract, according to the nurses. The pay increase starts with a 3.5% raise in the first year of the new agreement.

According to the nurses’ group, the new contract that covers terms of employment through 2026 includes the creation of an infectious disease taskforce with RN participation. The taskforce will meet periodically to discuss mitigation plans for a potential disease outbreak, epidemic or pandemic that impacts HHMH.

The contract also includes the creation of a Workplace Violence Prevention Committee with two RN representatives, says the nurses’ press release. The purpose of the committee is to address workplace violence concerns and update current policies in accordance with SB 1299, the state’s Workplace Violence Prevention Act.

Other highlights of the contract, according to the nurses’ bargaining group, include:

– Juneteenth and Martin Luther King Day are recognized as federal holidays.

– Standby pay, charge nurse pay and the creation of a new Staff Nurse IV position at the local hospital.

– Expansion of “protected categories and inclusion of language to protect any RN who reports or witnesses acts of discrimination.”

“As we dive into year three of the pandemic, nurses have been advocating for better protections and protocols to keep us and our patients safe,” said Courtney Parrinello, RN. “I am excited about our new contract, which will create avenues for us to continue to help mitigate infectious disease outbreaks in our facility and push for safe patient care. None of this would have happened without RNs taking collective action as a union.”

HHMH is located at 911 Sunset Drive in Hollister. It is a full-service, 25-bed not-for-profit hospital that is governed by the San Benito Health Care District. HHMH offers surgical services, emergency services, diagnostic imaging, primary care, ambulatory care and other medical services for San Benito and southern Santa Clara County, according to the hospital’s website, hazelhawkins.com.