Strike averted at Santa Rosa Memorial, Petaluma Valley hospitals

NewsJune 9, 2016

Caregivers win significant patient care improvements in tentative agreement reached between NUHW members, St. Joseph Health System

SONOMA COUNTY — A costly one-day strike set for Thursday, June 9, was averted Wednesday when Santa Rosa Memorial and Petaluma Valley caregivers reached a tentative agreement with St. Joseph Health System on several issues that would significantly improve standards of care at the two hospitals. 

The NUHW Memorial and Petaluma Valley bargaining committees, made up of caregivers elected by their peers, voted to put the tentative agreement up for a vote of the membership. Within the next two weeks, 680 Memorial caregivers and 150 Petaluma Valley caregivers will vote to ratify or reject the agreement. 

The tentative agreement includes:

• Mediation of patient care issues to resolve staffing and other problems that affect the quality and timeliness of care. 

• A commitment from St. Joseph Health to work with its staff to assess and meet staffing needs throughout the hospitals and a limit on St. Joseph’s ability to cancel shifts.

• Wage increases and a medical premium freeze that will help reduce turnover by ensuring that experienced caregivers remain on staff rather than leave for jobs at competing hospitals. Caregivers would receive 5% increases in the first and second years of the the three-year contract, and a 3.25% increase in the third year, plus an immediate 6% market-adjustment increase for roughly half the workers at each facility. St. Joseph also committed to a freeze in medical premiums for the duration of the agreement, beginning in 2017, and no further changes to benefits for the life of the contract.

NUHW-represented Memorial caregivers are negotiating their second contract; Petaluma Valley caregivers are negotiating their first. NUHW members at two St. Joseph hospitals in Humboldt County ratified their first contracts in April. 

“This is a first step in establishing a working relationship between NUHW-represented caregivers and St. Joseph management,” said NUHW President Sal Rosselli. “Our Sonoma County and Humboldt County members have clearly demonstrated to St. Joseph Health that they are deeply concerned, actively engaged, and have the courage of their convictions. We hope St. Joseph recognizes the value of that dedication and will choose to benefit from it by including its staff in decision-making processes at the hospitals.”

NUHW represents more than 800 caregivers at Santa Rosa Memorial and Petaluma Valley, as well as 500 St. Joseph healthcare workers at St. Joseph Hospital Eureka and Redwood Memorial Hospital in Humboldt County.