After long struggle, Queen of the Valley workers reach tentative agreement

NewsMarch 30, 2020

In a major victory against an employer that had relentlessly tried to overturn their vote to form a union, Queen of the Valley workers have tentatively agreed to a first contract with major wage increases.

The four-year contract, which still must be ratified, includes:

  • Annual raises that will total 14 to 24 percent over the life of the agreement. Several workers will have even higher raises as they transition to a new wage scale.
  • Ratification bonuses ranging from $500 to $1,000 based on length of service.
  • Preservation of a popular PPO health plan that the hospital wanted to discontinue.
  • Expanded continuing education benefit.
  • Seniority provisions and protections around flexing, including a fair rotation.
  • Grievance and arbitration process to address violations of our contracts and rights at work.

“We fought years for this contract, and it was worth it,” said Ray Herrera, A senior radiologic technologist. “This contract will help our hospital retain quality workers, and it will help us to support ourselves and our families.”

The tentative agreement was reached exactly four months after workers at Queen held their first-ever strike — in partnership with NUHW members at other Providence St. Joseph hospitals. At the time of the strike, Queen management was offering less than 2 percent annual wage increases and demanding that workers immediately give up their PPO health plan.

NUHW represents 460 workers at Queen of the valley including nursing assistants, respiratory therapists, medical technicians, and housekeepers who voted overwhelmingly to form a union with NUHW in November 2016.

However, Queen abruptly withdrew recognition of the union in March 2017, claiming that the National Labor Relations Board somehow disenfranchised workers by conducting the election through the mail, even though turnout was 90 percent, and workers elected to form a union by a 20-point margin. 

The hospital refused to negotiate a contract, while losing several court rulings trying to overturn the election. Finally, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2018 ordered the hospital to resume bargaining and recognize the union.

“This contract is a testament to our determination and our solidarity,” said Joy Layson, a nursing assistant. “We showed Queen management that we will stand and fight for each other and for our patients. I’ve never been prouder to work with my colleagues at the Queen.”

Queen workers will be reviewing details of the tentative agreement before voting on the agreement in April.