Sun10192014

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El Camino Hospital reaches agreements with unions

El Camino Hospital District officials last week completed agreements with a pair of labor organizations that collectively represent more than 2,200 district employees.

The agreements with the Professional Resource for Nurses (PRN) and the Service Employees International Union-United Health Workers, West (SEIU-UHW), were announced within 24 hours of one another.

Relationship with union thaws

The hospital’s Sept. 19 announcement of a new three-year contract with SEIU-UHW brings an end to negotiations that started in April 2011 and became contentious at times. In November 2011, the hospital’s board of directors declared an impasse in contract negotiations with the union and voted to impose its last, best offer on hospital workers.

According to Chris Ernst, the hospital’s vice president of marketing and corporate communications, both parties went back to the negotiating table in May, leading to a thaw in what until recently had been a chilly relationship.

“I think that they were really upset that it got to the level it did,” she said. “We’ve worked hard over the last couple of months to hear them and work through the concerns that they had.”

The new contract includes a 6 percent salary increase for employees over the life of the contract, fully funded health care and dental coverage for employees and their families and increases employees’ paid time-off accrual cap from 350 to 400 hours. According to SEIU-UHW officials, the contract calls for the hospital to match 4 percent of employee contributions to 403(b) retirement savings plans for individuals with 14 years of tenure or less. Workers employed by the hospital for 15 years or more will receive a matching contribution of 5 percent.

Ernst added that the changes would not only be implemented for those represented by the union, but for other non-management employees at the hospital as well. Hospital and union officials agreed to work toward an employee wellness initiative and to “work together to encourage employee participation in the program.”

“Our members are focused on improving health and health care,” SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan said in a prepared statement released by the union. “That includes ways to help employees get healthy, lower costs and build a healthier community. This agreement maintains benefits and provides raises – but it goes beyond traditional union issues, working with El Camino Hospital to promote health and wellness.”

Nurses agree to new terms

One day earlier, the hospital announced an agreement with PRN on enhanced compensation and benefits that affect approximately 1,100 registered nurses.

The agreement ends five months of negotiations and calls for fully paid health coverage for nurses working half time (50 percent) or more, as well as their families. Nurses working at 40 percent or less will receive prorated benefits. Included in the agreement is a 12 percent increase in the nurses’ paid time off accrual cap.

According to PRN President Patricia Aleshire Briggs, the changes include enhanced 403(b) matching contributions. Nurses working for 20 years or more will receive contributions of up to 6 percent to their retirement plans, while those with 15-19 years receive 5 percent. Those under 15 years of service receive a 4 percent match.

“This agreement underscores El Camino’s commitment to its registered nurses and highlights the effectiveness of the relationship between PRN and the hospital administration and board of directors,” said Briggs.

As in their contract with SEIU-UHW, hospital officials agreed to collaborate with PRN on developing an employee wellness initiative.

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