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Watsonville Community Hospital nurses ratify new contract

by California Nurses Association
Nurses win strong measures to improve retention of experienced nurses, patient safety
December 9, 2023 -- Registered nurses at Watsonville Community Hospital (WCH) in Watsonville, Calif., voted overwhelmingly in favor of ratifying a new three-year contract today, announced California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU). The contract – which includes protections to improve patient safety and nurse retention – is the first collective bargaining agreement since WCH became a public-sector employer following the 2021 bankruptcy fight.

“After a tumultuous few years, we’re thrilled to have a strong contract that reflects the priorities of nurses and the needs of our community,” said Shanandrea Castro, RN-Special Procedures and member of the bargaining team. “We fought hard to win critical measures to retain experienced nurses and secured health and safety provisions to improve the hospital’s infectious disease prevention efforts.”

Highlights of the contract include:

* Improved retention of experienced nurses, with a hospital guarantee that 20 percent of staff positions be reserved as part-time
* Precedent-setting infectious disease standards, in the event of a novel virus, outbreak, epidemic, or pandemic, and a newly created Infectious Disease Task Force (IDTF) to incorporate nurse input
* Safeguards against mandatory overtime and exploitation of nurses working on-call
* Protections against outsourcing, with a hospital guarantee to prioritize union nurses

Contract negotiations began in July 2023. WCH nurses held an informational picket in November.

CNA represents nearly 250 nurses at Watsonville Community Hospital. The new contract term will end December 2026 and full ratification by the Pajaro Valley Health Care District Board of Directors will be announced and scheduled for next week.

California Nurses Association/National Nurses United is the largest and fastest-growing union and professional association of registered nurses in the nation with 100,000 members in more than 200 facilities throughout California and nearly 225,000 RNs nationwide.
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