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Nurses vote on proposed labor contract

Posted: May 9, 2012 5:44 p.m.
Updated: May 9, 2012 5:44 p.m.

Nurses at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital who have been working without a contract since February have reached a tentative agreement with the hospital, a union representative said Wednesday.

The hospital's 450 registered nurses voted Wednesday whether to ratify the contract, said Louie Rada, spokesman for the California Nurses Association and the National Nurses United, with which local nurses are affiliated.

Results of the vote were not available Wednesday night.

"Right now, we are in the process of ratifying our contract," Rada told The Signal Wednesday afternoon. "We do have a tentative agreement but we are now going through the process of having our nurses review that tentative agreement."

Since Feb. 29, the nurses have been working without a contract.

Earlier, nurses and their representatives voiced skepticism about constructive contract talks, but Mark Puelo, the hospital's chief human resources officer and central contract negotiator, was optimistic.

"The hospital is confident we will reach a mutual advantageous agreement in the near future," he said after the nurses' contract expired.

Negotiations between the two sides had been sporadic but ongoing.

According to the nurses, the hospital had refused to discuss money, nurses' safety and the controversial "team nursing" staffing model.

Last April, hospital administrators announced they would abandon their team nursing program and introduce a more intimate model that allows nurses more time with fewer patients, hospital officials announced at the time.
According to hospital administrators, the nurses were asking for too much money.

A tentative agreement reached Tuesday suggests those issues have been addressed.

Whether or not the nurses believe the issues were addressed satisfactorily will be reflected in Wednesday's ratification vote.

"Whether or not they accept the contract, we won't know until later," Rada said.





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