California county OKs boost to hospital workers' pay, averts strike

The union representing about 4,000 hospital employees in California's Santa Clara County has reached a tentative contract agreement with the county, the Gilroy Dispatch reports.

The 39-month agreement averted a strike planned for Feb. 28. It covers about 12,000 Service Employees International Union Local 521-represented public employees, including about 4,000 workers at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and O'Connor Hospital, both in San Jose, and St. Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy.

Wages has been a sticking point in negotiations. The union has also called on the county to address what it described as understaffing at Valley Medical Center. 

Under the tentative deal, covered employees will receive four raises of 3 percent each over the life of the contract, Santa Clara County Executive Jeff Smith, MD, JD, told the Dispatch. He said each represented worker will receive a signing bonus, and many jobs will be "realigned to get people in the market range," resulting in more pay increases.

He estimated the wage increases and signing bonuses together will cost about $483 million.

Janet Diaz, union local chapter president, told the Dispatch the agreement "allows us to begin to rebuild the long-standing partnership between management and our workforce."

She also said the deal includes improvements that will help decrease  employee turnover and "make county jobs more attractive as the county seeks to fill critical vacancies."

According to Dr. Smith, the agreement is slated to take effect April 1, pending ratification by employees and approval from the county board of supervisors.


More articles on human resources:
San Joaquin General Hospital RNs issue strike notice
California hospital workers schedule strike for Feb. 28
Washington governor gets Swedish, union back to bargaining table next week

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