With a strike only four days away, Crozer-Chester Medical Center opened yesterday’s bargaining session with a comprehensive “Best Offer,” with significant concessions, on the condition that the parties reach a ratified settlement by September 30, 2014. We also offered to make further compromises if the Union made identified concessions. Our new proposal contained the following:
- Some steps providing modest increases for less senior nurses.
- No step rate reductions for any nurses up through the proposed Step 15.
- We significantly reduced our proposed step decreases for senior nurses and made them higher than Temple’s current rates.
- We offered to continue the weekend program if the Union replaced the current weekend rate with a $5 differential on top of the new proposed step rate. Top-of-scale nurses would still get of $53.12 to $55.91/hr., and with shift differentials some would get more than they do now.
- We are considering the Union’s proposal to base DC Plan contributions on seniority rather than age. This could be a significant advantage to senior nurses.
- For the health plan we reduced our proposed spousal, smoker and income surcharges; we agreed with the Union proposal on retail pharmacy copays; and we proposed significant caps on future increases in copays, coinsurance, deductibles, and “out of pocket” maximums.
- We offered to enhance our Staffing and Professional Development Committee agreement by adding that nursing leadership will meet with the Committee to review and discuss the budgeted HPPD model and inform the committee of any changes throughout the year.
Yesterday we signed a Tentative Agreement on “Displacement” and we have already signed TAs on a new “Staffing and Professional Development Committee,” “Monthly Union Management Meetings,” and “Transport Team.” We are making progress in the negotiations, and we are continuing to honor the expired contract as we bargain in good faith for a contract that is fair for the nurses and which the Medical Center can afford.
Our next bargaining session is already scheduled for September 23rd, but yesterday the Union indicated it may cancel. We believe it would be unreasonable and irresponsible for the Union to walk away from the bargaining table while at the same time subjecting the Medical Center, its employees, and the community to a job action. Having a strike solves nothing, but it will cost significant resources and put a settlement further out of reach.