Nurses approve first union contract in Arizona amid COVID-19

Updated: Jul. 16, 2020 at 10:13 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Nurses at St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s Hospitals have voted and approved a union contract- the first in the state of Arizona and first during a pandemic.

“This is a historic moment. It’s the first nurse union contract in the state of Arizona,” said St. Mary’s Hospital RN Dominique Hamilton.

As of 9:01 last night, nurses at St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s signed their union contract with the National Nurses Organizing Committee.

Nurses unionized in October of 2018, but the pandemic slowed some negotiations.

Now, nurses at the Carondelet Hospitals will have staffing protections and a voice on staffing levels as well as guaranteed rest between shifts and what’s on many medical professional’s minds- a voice on personal protective equipment.

“PPE is definitely at the forefront of peoples’ minds and with this contract we have really strong language to make sure nurses have what they need.”

Hamilton says she became a nurse after her mother was hospitalized, and she saw the level of care and advocating nurses did for her mother.

She says the union and contract will help nurses provide the best level of care for patients.

“There’s a lot of emotional support nurses provide for patients because usually when you’re hospitalized it’s one of the scarier moments of your life,” she said.

The Carondelet Health Network sent out a supportive statement of the union contract:

“We are pleased that the nurses represented by the National Nurses organizing Committee at Carondelet St. Joseph’s Hospital and Carondelet St. Mary’s Hospital have voted to ratify our first collective bargaining agreement.

During the 18-month negotiation process, we reached an agreement that is fair for both our nurses and for our hospitals. The contract ensures that we continue to have the operational flexibility we need to provide quality, compassionate care to our most important priority – our patients.

We appreciate the dedication and professionalism that our nurses and our other caregivers demonstrate every day.”

The contract is for three years and the NNOC is part of National Nurses United- the largest union of registered nurses in the U.S.

Copyright 2020 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.