Why is the hospital in negotiations with its nurses?
The current memorandum of understanding (MOU) between El Camino Hospital and Professional Resource for Nurses (PRN) expired on June 30, 2019. We began negotiating with PRN for a new contract agreement in late March, 2019 before the last agreement expired. After several months and over 20 bargaining sessions with PRN, we have been unable to come to a mutually beneficial agreement at this point.
What does the negotiation process entail?
When an existing labor agreement is set to expire, both parties meet to begin bargaining for the next agreement. Parties will negotiate on terms until they reach agreement and are able to ratify a new agreement. If the parties cannot agree and reach an impasse (as we experienced on June 6, 2019), they can present their positions to a mutually agreed upon and neutral ‘Factfinder’ who will then listen to both sides. The Factfinder will then present their recommendations for agreement. Each party can accept all, some, or none of the Factfinder’s recommendations and, if there are still unresolved issues, both parties can agree to return to the bargaining table to resolve them-with or without the help of a mediator.
What is the current status of the Hospital’s negotiations with the nurses?
On August 9, 2019, El Camino Hospital and PRN completed two days of factfinding. Factfinding is a formal process where the Hospital and PRN worked with a neutral and mutually agreed upon mediator (called the "Factfinder") who has extensive experience in hospital labor negotiations, with each party presenting facts and market data. The Factfinder is now analyzing all information presented and will issue a report with their non-binding recommendations to help resolve the few remaining issues. We expect the report by August 26, 2019.
What terms are still under negotiation?
At this point, we have signed more than 30 tentative agreements with PRN to be part of the next contract, with only a few outstanding issues remaining. During factfinding, the Hospital listened carefully, made significant compromises, and modified several proposals with enhancements. The Hospital’s proposed increases are equal to or higher than nurse increases at local public and private hospitals that have ratified new nursing contracts. This contract keeps our nurses among the top paid in the Bay Area.
What happens if there is a strike?
We recognize and respect our nurses right to strike as part of this process, but strongly believe that a strike would serve no positive benefit for nurses and would be expensive, divisive and destructive to our culture. The vast majority of contract negotiations end up with a new contract without a strike -- typically both sides continue working at it until they resolve their conflicts, without the disruption and discord strikes bring.
However, in the case of a strike, we do have a comprehensive contingency plan in place that will ensure skilled and experienced nurses will be on hand to provide the high-quality care our patients expect and need. Should our nurses decide to strike, a formal 10-day advance notice is required.
To ensure our nurses are aware of all accurate information and progress in negotiations, we have held 20 open forums for our nurses in order to communicate where we are in the negotiation process. The Hospital presented both PRN and the Hospital’s latest positions that the Factfinder will consider in making his recommendations. We also shared factual information presented to the Factfinder on the remaining issues. These open forums provided an opportunity for the nurses to ask questions and to keep the communication lines open during this time.
We expect a recommendation report on the few remaining issues from the neutral Factfinder by August 26, 2019. We will continue to maintain open lines of communication as we work to reach a fair agreement that promotes quality patient care and a professional nursing practice environment.