CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES — After months of negotiations, the Pajaro Valley Health Care District Board unanimously voted to approve a three-year agreement between the management of Watsonville Community Hospital and the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United union.
When we fight, we win! ✊🎉
Nurses at Watsonville Community Hospital are celebrating a new contract that will improve retention of experienced nurses and prioritize patient safety! https://t.co/wWrgv1hbrp
— California Nurses (@CalNurses) December 9, 2023
The small Watsonville hospital has faced financial uncertainty since declaring bankruptcy two years ago. Local voters approved a measure to make it a public hospital in hopes of preserving health care access.
Nurses sought better wages, benefits, working conditions, and protections against outsourcing in the new contract talks, which began over the summer. When progress stalled, they held an informational picket in November to bring attention to their concerns.
Ultimately compromises were reached on issues like staffing levels, overtime protections, and health coverage. The contract includes annual raises for nurses but also asks them to pay a slightly higher percentage toward benefits.
Hospital leaders said finding a balance between nurses’ needs and the hospital’s finances was a priority. The new deal brings stability through December 2026.
Nurses said they look forward to serving the community with the contract dispute behind them. “We’re pleased to have an agreement so we can focus on patient care,” said one veteran nurse.
With the new contract approved, nurses and hospital management now aim to work cooperatively in the coming years.