Stanford Health nurses approve contract, will end weeklong strike

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Stanford Health Care and Stanford Children’s Health nurses have agreed to a three-year contract following a strike that began a week ago, the union said Monday.

Nurses will return to work Tuesday.

Members of the Committee for the Recognition of Nursing Achievement, or CRONA, on Sunday voted 83% in favor of the contract, the union said. The union represents 5,000 nurses employed by the southern California hospitals. The union disclosed a tentative agreement Saturday.

Colleen Borges, president of the union and a pediatric oncology nurse at Stanford Children’s Health, called the contract “an enormous victory.”

“We have won improvements across all the priorities nurses identified at the beginning of our contract campaign,” Borges said in a news release. “CRONA nurses always knew our worth. We are glad the hospitals are finally acknowledging it now after a week-long strike that demonstrated how difficult it is to get nurses with the skills and experience that Stanford and Packard nurses bring to their patient care.”

Stanford said it was pleased by the contract’s ratification.

“After extensive discussions, we were able to reach a contract that reflects our shared priorities and enhances existing benefits supporting our nurses’ health, well-being and ongoing professional development,” Stanford said in an emailed statement.

Bargaining started in January, and the previous contracts expired at the end of March. The parties have used a federal mediator throughout the process.

A major issue for nurses was the recruitment and retention of nurses, the union said. Nurses had asked the hospitals to spend more to improve staffing levels and to prioritize rest and recovery for burnt-out nurses.

According to the union, the agreement includes:

  • higher pay for treating high-acuity patients.
  • raises of 7% in 2022, 5% in 2023 and 5% in 2024.
  • improved mental health benefits.
  • an additional week of paid time off.
  • enhanced retiree medical benefits and student loan assistance.
  • a new rapid-response team for workplace violence at Stanford Children’s Health.
  • in-person emergency response training.
  • maintenance of zero-premium health benefits for nurses and their families.

The union moved toward a work stoppage less than two weeks after the previous deals expired, and the hospitals responded by threatening to withhold workers’ health insurance premiums. After the two parties reached a tentative agreement Friday, Stanford agreed not to disrupt medical benefits.

There have been a number of recent labor disputes at Califorina hospitals. Workers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles plan to go on strike May 9 over a contract with the not-for-profit hospital that ended March 31. During that strike, 2,000 members of Service Employees Union International-United Healthcare Workers West will protest unfair labor practices, safety concerns, short staffing and low wages.

In April, more than 8,000 nurses and other healthcare workers at 15 Sutter Health sites in California conducted a one-day strike over concerns about staffing levels and health and safety standards.

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