Mayo, nurses agree on contract

Published 10:24 am Tuesday, June 3, 2014

MNA: Deal will let nurses have say on staffing, scheduling

Minnesota union leaders said a contract reached late last week ensures 145 Austin nurses will have a voice in key decisions and discussions.

After three months and 12 negotiation sessions, Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin reached a contract agreement with 145 hospital nurses represented by the Minnesota Nurses Association. The three-year contract calls for a 9.25 percent wage increase over three years, and improvements in health and retirement benefits. The contract also means nurses will partner with management to develop and manage a staffing and scheduling system designed to improve patient care delivery, according to MNA.

“The system is going to be developed in partnership with them; they’ll have the say,” said Jan Rabbers, an MNA spokeswoman.

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More than 50 Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin nurses participated in a solidarity walk with family and friends outside Mayo Clinic Health System May 19 to show they stood as one in negotiations. Nurses’ contracts expired April 1, but the contract is still in effect through a mutual agreement to extend talks.

Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin issued a written statement saying they were pleased with the agreement.

“We are pleased that we have reached this agreement with our nurses and pleased that the registered nurses will be receiving the same set of benefits that are being offered to employees across Mayo Clinic Health System. We look forward to the positive, professional and solution-based input from our nurses, and all our staff members, as we work in the best interest of our patients, their families, the communities we serve and the sustainability of our organization,” said Diane Twedell, chief nursing officer, Mayo Clinic Health System in the Southeast Minnesota region said in a written statement.

MNA sees the contract as an agreement for management to trust nurses’ judgments. Rabbers said trust in bedside nurses is key because they’re the ones who “see it and live it.” This contract equips nurses to better advocate for patients and have their voices heard, according to Rabbers.

“Give them the tools to do that and everybody wins,” Rabbers said.

Rabbers said it’s also important to have nurses who are fresh and have autonomy, especially when patients are in difficult situations.

“Nurses are getting more and more fatigued because corporate health care is looking at labor costs, and so they’re putting more pressure on nurses,” Rabbers aid.

The wage increase, the improved benefits and other provisions will be key in recruitment and retention of nurses, and Rabbers said the nation is moving toward a serious nursing shortage. Thanks to retirements and new jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Projections released last December predicts more than a million nursing job openings by 2022.

“We’re still going to be facing a massive nursing shortage in the 2020s,” she said.