Queen of the Valley workers win mid-contract raises and are ready to fight for more

NewsJuly 26, 2022

Forcing an employer to raise wages in the middle of a contract isn’t easy, but Queen workers never stopped fighting and advocating for each other. They researched how their wages compared to those of nearby hospitals, and demonstrated their strength in January with aninformational picket that drew public attention to severe understaffing in the hospital that was harming patients and causing caregivers to leave.

When hospital executives in April tried to renege on their signed agreement to boost wages, claiming that the head of human resources hadn’t had the authority to approve the deal, the workers never flinched and forced management to relent.

“This victory means a lot because we have been fighting big time, trying to get these adjustments for our colleagues,” said Martha McNelis, a sterile processing technician at Queen who participated in negotiations over the raises. “We’re very happy we made it this far. “We’ve been losing a lot of employees to other hospitals because the money is less compared to other places.”

Among the 29 classifications that will receive the additional pay raise are dietary technicians, IR/cath lab technicians, surgical technicians, respiratory care practitioners, mammography technicians and pharmacy technicians.

The pay increase was supposed to be equivalent to increasing one step on the wage scale. After reletning on the raises, Queen of the Valley has tried to cap the raises at no more than 7 percent, but workers are fighting in the grievance process to get the full raises that were agreed to by Providence.

In addition to the mid-contract raises, all NUHW members at the hospital will still get a 3 percent raise this year as required by their contract, which was agreed to in 2020.

The NUHW members at Queen are happy with what they’ve achieved so far, but they will keep pushing until every classification, including nursing assistants and housekeepers, gets an additional raise, which is necessary to ensure that the hospital retains quality workers and provides the best possible care for patients.

“We’re still fighting for everyone to be equal and to be fair,” said McNelis, a 27-year veteran at the hospital who hasn’t yet gotten a mid-contract raise for herself. “Every worker at our hospital has earned an additional raise beyond what’s in our contract, and we are determined to make sure that everyone receives one.”