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Nurses Ratify New 2-Year Contract

Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) nurses have ratified a new two-year contract Wednesday after their previous contract expired Sunday.

Eighty-seven percent of the 1,238 nurses voted in favor of ratifying the contract.

Transplant nurse Cathy Stoddart, president of the SEIU unit that represents AGH’s nurses, said they gained a combined 4.25 percent raise over the life of the contract.

“That means that we have the best starting rate for nurses in the city, we have an environment that they can come to and be secure - not put their license on the line - and actually be able to take care of patients,” Stoddart said.

The contract also retained the nurses’ healthcare coverage and lowered nurse-to-patient ratios.

She said they secured $350,000 in quality education and training money, and every nurse received a paid education day starting in 2015.

Dan Laurent, AGH spokesman, said the hospital believes this is a very good contract for both the nurses and the hospital.

“Our goal in negotiating was to establish a competitive agreement for our nurses that reflects the tremendous value they bring to the hospital,” Laurent said.  “Also, ensuring that the contract is sensitive to the economic realities of both our organization and the healthcare industry as a whole.”

Laurent described the entire bargaining process as “smooth.”

“I really believe that we’ve developed a very collaborative relationship with our nurses over the past, going on a decade now,” Laurent said. “And I think that as we’ve collaborated, we have approached our negotiations again in that spirit of coming together to do what’s best.”

He said that also includes considering what is best for the patients and the hospital.

Stoddart agreed, saying that the contract is really “wrapped around the patient.”

“It is a blanket of protection that makes sure that when you come there, you’re not going to get an infection, when you come there you’re going to see your nurse and when you come there, we’re going to be able to teach you and take care of you no matter what kind of shape you come there in, and return you healthier back to the community,” Stoddart said.