Nurses at Altoona Regional Health System voted overwhelmingly on December 23rd to ratify a new union contract that includes a new process for setting nurse-to-patient ratios and staffing guidelines, as well as raises of 11% over the term of the three year contract.
“This agreement will make sure that nurses will have a voice in setting staffing levels so that we are always providing the best care possible to our patients,” said Kimberly Heverly, Vice-President of the nurses’ union and a registered nurse at the Altoona Hospital Campus.
“Working together with management, we really are making ARHS the hospital of choice for patients in the region, and the employer of choice for registered nurses,” said Cindy Shuma, a registered nurse in the PACU at the Altoona Hospital Campus.
The agreement includes other improvements such as increases to charge pay, on-call pay and shift differential, enhancements to the paid time off policy and uniform allowance, and a commitment from management to work with us on the creation of a new career ladder.
Nurses worked for months to negotiate a fair contract, with talks stretching into the early-morning hours of December 23rd. The contract took effect January 1st, 2011, and covers 800 nurses at both hospital campuses of Altoona Regional Health System.
Paula Stellabotte, an RN and president of the union’s chapter at ARHS, said: “We proved that by working hard and sticking together, we can make a difference for nurses and our patients, and have a positive, collaborative relationship with management.”