Tennessee hospital, union OK contracts with expanded COVID-19 leave, pay increase

Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge (Tenn.) and Service Employees International Union Local 205 have approved new three-year contracts covering about 800 hospital workers, the Oak Ridger reported.

The union said terms include an immediate 2.5 percent raise and a signing bonus for employees as well as the same increases in the second and third contract years, according to the newspaper. Terms also reportedly include increases in medical insurance premiums; expanded paid leave for employees if they are exposed to COVID-19 at work; a new student loan debt forgiveness program for eligible workers; and a pledge by both parties to collaboratively address staffing and workload issues.

"The agreement was reached despite the unprecedented challenges the country, and especially healthcare workers and institutions, have faced during the pandemic," Sarah Englehardt, union bargaining team member and registered nurse chief steward, told the Oak Ridger. "We appreciate the hospital leadership's efforts to work together with us to reach this agreement, well before our current contract expired."

Methodist Medical Center, part of Knoxville, Tenn.-based Covenant Health, told newspaper, it is pleased an agreement had been reached during the pandemic.

"In addition to the wages and benefits guaranteed within the three-year contracts, we also provided financial assistance to those negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and reduced work schedules," the hospital said.

"A total of 380 employees of Methodist requested financial assistance, and the hospital issued approximately $209,000 among these employees earlier this year. We are very proud of the unwavering dedication and commitment of our employees and medical staff during this unprecedented time."

Read the full report here.

 

More articles on human resources:
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