ASHEVILLE, NC (FOX Carolina)- Registered Nurses at HCA's Mission Hospital in Asheville voted to ratify their first ever union contract on Thursday and Friday, according to a release from the National Nurses Organizing Committee and National Nurses United.
The release says that the three year contract will guarantee wage increases of up to seven percent in the first year and up to 17 percent total, based on experience.
Other highlights of the contract include:
- Patient care protections, including the formation of a professional practice committee made up of union RNs to review patient care conditions and recommend changes at the hospital
- Guaranteed meal and rest breaks
- A ban on mandatory overtime
- Personal Protective equipment and testing, including requirements that the hospital will provide PPE for nurses that meet federal, state and local guidelines. Guaranteed HIV and COVID-19 tests are also included, according to the release.
- Workplace violence prevention: This includes a hospital behavioral response team with added security.
- Patient handling lift teams and training: This will help to reduce injuries to nurses, the release says.
- Protection against unsafe floating: According to the release, the union contract limits unsafe floating, which is described as the practice of assigning nurses to units to which they do not have the expertise or training. The release says that the contract stipulates that nurses cannot be floated from an assignment that leaves their home unit short staffed.
According to the release, the contract also outlines provisions for a committee to promote diversity and inclusion, limits of the hospital to make cuts in nurses' health coverage, just cause protection (including grievance procedures for discipline and hospital harassment), seniority protection for long-term nurses during layoffs and staffing vacancies, additional pay for nurses that work nights, evenings, weekends when they are transporting patients or when they are called in, and paid time off to vote in elections.
Misison RN Sarah Duvall says that the contract allows nurses to have a voice in hospital procedures.
“This pact provides substantial measures to ensure nurses have a stronger voice for safe staffing, new health and safety measures for a safer hospital, and economic improvements to keep the bedrock nurses our community needs, at the bedside."
Mission Hospital released a statement about the ratification on Saturday.
“Mission Hospital is pleased to report that our comprehensive tentative agreement with the union has been approved as a contract by the union’s members. Now that the negotiation process is complete, we are eager to move forward. We are grateful that throughout these negotiations Mission Hospital, our nurses, and our entire care team have been dedicated to providing compassionate care for our Western North Carolina community.”