UnityPoint Wisconsin hospital reaches labor deal with nurses, averts strike

Registered nurses have approved an agreement with UnityPoint Health-Meriter Hospital in Madison, Wis., averting a strike, according to hospital and union statements. 

The two-year contract covers more than 850 nurses represented by SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin, a statewide branch of the Service Employees International Union.

It includes an annual average wage increase of 3.8 percent (2.6 percent increase across the board and a 1.2 percent step increase) and makes additional earned time (vacation/sick time) available for nurses. The union said nurses who used up their leave during the COVID-19 pandemic will have up to 60 hours of additional paid time off to use in 2021, and those who stay past their scheduled shift or come in on short notice on their days off will receive better pay.

"This has been a difficult year for so many, and we appreciate how both sides came together to reach a fair agreement and look forward to collaboratively implementing this contract together. This is not only about taking a stand for Meriter nurses, but also for all our colleagues throughout the hospital, and all healthcare workers and essential workers through our state and country who have sacrificed so much over the past year," Suzi Kossel, a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit at Meriter Hospital and bargaining committee member, said in a March 21 news release.  

The hospital also praised the agreement in a March 21 statement.

"We are extremely pleased with this outcome," said Meriter Chief Nursing Executive Sherry Casali, RN. "Our nurses are our lifeblood, and we've always been committed to supporting them. This new contract only furthers that promise."

Under the contract, the hospital said the union also agreed to withdraw workforce allegations submitted to the National Labor Relations Board. Wisconsin Examiner reported that the allegations were that the hospital made unspecified threats to nurses for union activity. The hospital denies the allegations.

 

More articles on human resources:
Lawmakers to Maine Medical Center: 'Fire union busters,' let nurses vote freely
Tenet Massachusetts hospital nurses strike enters second week; another union pickets: 7 things to know
Tenet Massachusetts hospital, ancillary staff reach labor deal; nurses' strike enters 3rd week

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