Fountain Valley RNs and professionals win big raises after joining NUHW
Approximately 850 NUHW-represented registered nurses, medical social workers, speech therapists, physical therapists and pharmacists at Tenet Healthcare’s Fountain Valley Regional Hospital voted overwhelmingly Thursday to ratify a contract that will significantly improve wages and help the hospital confront a severe understaffing crisis.
The three-year agreement averted a potential strike at the 400-bed hospital, which provides safety net services to residents in Fountain Valley and surrounding cities.
The agreement, which was covered by the Orange County Register, includes:
16 to 41 percent increases in starting wage rates.
Cost of living raises ranging from 11 to 41 percent with the average worker receiving a 17 percent increase over the course of the contract.
Measures to reduce turnover including the restoration of a longevity bonus and a new pathway for registered nurses to advance to a higher classification with an additional wage increase.
Measures to address understaffing including provisions to address violations of nurse staffing ratios and restrict management’s ability to cancel shifts when the hospital is not fully staffed. Last year, registered nurses at Fountain Valley reported missing 31,000 meal breaks because shifts were not adequately staffed.
“This contract is an important first step toward addressing the under-resourcing of our hospital that has forced far too many of our colleagues to leave and jeopardized the care our patients receive,” Dianne Adams, a nurse in the Recovery Room. “We’re excited to work with our colleagues to keep the pressure on Tenet to make Fountain Valley a better hospital for patients and caregivers.”
This is the first contract the caregivers have negotiated as NUHW members. NUHW already represents more than 700 medical technicians, nursing assistants, housekeepers and food service workers at the hospital, who won big raises and improved workplace safety protections in contracts they negotiated last year.
During five months of bargaining, Tenet initially rejected proposals aimed at addressing low pay and understaffing, but the Dallas-based corporation made significant movement after workers authorized a strike in October.
“We formed a new union to have a say in how our hospital is run and to stand up for the people in our community who depend on us for vital care,” said Julie Hayward, a registered nurse at Fountain Valley. “This is a big victory that will help us retain our dedicated caregivers and hold Tenet executives accountable for providing safe patient care in our community.”