1,400 USC nurses ratify labor deal

Registered nurses at Keck Hospital of USC and USC Norris Cancer Hospital in Los Angeles have approved a new contract that addresses patient and worker safety, according to Keck Medicine of USC and the union representing the nurses.

The agreement, approved Sept. 21, covers about 1,400 USC nurses represented by the California Nurses Association. It runs through June 2025.

"We are so pleased that after months of negotiations, we have ratified an agreement that provides substantial measures to ensure nurses have a stronger voice in providing safe patient care," Kerri Dodgens, a registered nurse at Keck Hospital of USC, said in a news release. "Notably, this contract establishes two new RN staffing committees, creates a new joint novel disease committee to discuss best practices and policies concerning emerging diseases, and includes numerous provisions that will improve recruitment and retention of experienced nurses."

Marty Sargeant, interim CEO and COO of Keck Hospital and USC Norris, also praised the deal, saying it "reflects our commitment to our caregivers and supports our mission to provide exceptional patient care."

Under the agreement, nurses will receive pay increases of up to 27.7 percent over four years, according to the union. The union said health system officials also agreed to hire 70 nurses by the end of the year to ensure proper staffing and reduce the number of nonemployee contract nurses by 40 percent by the end of the year. 

Other guarantees in the contract include new nurse participation in the infection prevention committee, a resource nurse when five or more nurses are working, and a new joint committee to discuss practices and policies regarding novel diseases. 

Keck Medicine of USC and the union negotiated about 10 months. Nurses at Keck and Norris Cancer Hospital went on strike in July amid the dispute. 


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