Registered nurses at Utica hospital ratify new contract

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Registered nurses at St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica have ratified a new contract with hospital management that includes a wage increase plus five additional employees among its terms.

The New York State Nurses Association announced Wednesday night that the St. Elizabeth nurses overwhelmingly ratified a four-year contract that will expire on June 30, 2019; the previous contract expired in July last year. The association represents about 481 nurses at the hospital.

The union says the contract calls for the addition of five full-time employees, an increase in wages by 9 percent over the length of the contract and changes to health insurance. The staff-related changes also involve “new committees where nurses will have a true voice in staffing,” while insurance improvements replace “the base plan with a superior health plan at a reduced cost,” according to an association announcement.

The two sides had reached a tentative contract agreement last weekend with help from a federal mediator. Prior to that, a one-day strike had been authorized for Sept. 1 by the association, while St. Elizabeth officials had indicated an intent to lock out nurses that day and for four more days through Sept. 5; that plan had included having temporary nurses for five days.

Regarding the new contract approval, the nurses “are thrilled to ratify this agreement,” said Mike Pattison, a registered nurse at St. Elizabeth. “This contract takes measures to provide adequate staffing so the patients get the care they deserve, it helps the nurses by giving them adequate benefits so we can attract and keep the best of the best, and it gives the hospital a workforce that makes good business sense.”

Pattison added, “the nurses would like to thank the community for all of their support over the last 14 months as well as the Mohawk Valley Health System for working with us during negotiations. Rest assured the dedicated nurses of St Elizabeth Medical Center are here for this community.”

St. Elizabeth is an affiliate of Mohawk Valley Health System.

The contract ratification comes on the heels of a contract ratification at Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown as well as a tentative contract agreement at Nathan Littauer Hospital in Gloversville, the nurses association said.

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