UC and the California Nurses Association met on May 2 to continue negotiations for a new contract for UC nurses. UC’s goal is to achieve a multi-year, comprehensive contract that recognizes the critical role nurses play in patient care, and maintains market-competitive wages, excellent health and retirement benefits, and good working conditions for nurses.

At the May 2 meeting, CNA was expected to present a response or counteroffer to UC’s prior wage offer. The union offered no such proposal. Although the union offered no wage proposal, in an effort to reach an agreement, UC offered a proposal that included enhanced wages for nurses:

  • Market-competitive wages: Annual wage increases of 2 percent for the next five years, plus continuation of the regular step increases for eligible nurses. UC has a strong record of paying its nurses market-competitive wages and UC’s proposal will help ensure wages for nurses remain competitive. Rather than offer a counterproposal, CNA rejected UC’s offer out of hand.
  • Quality health care: Continued excellent health care for nurses and their families at the same rates as other UC employees. UC offers a wide choice of health plans and at reasonable rates.
  • Excellent retirement benefits: Current nurses would see no change in their retirement benefits. Future nurses hired after a new contract is ratified would have the opportunity to choose between a traditional pension plan and a 401(k)-style plan, depending on which plan they think suits them best. Few employers offer this choice, or a traditional pension. UC’s retirement program remains among the most generous in the market.

    CNA said it would not agree to the limit on pension-eligible earnings (“PEPRA” cap) in UC’s retirement choice program, despite the fact it was part of a funding agreement between UC and Governor Brown and is being applied to UC employees systemwide. CNA also said it will not agree to UC offering its nurses a 401(k)-style option, even though it too is being offered to other UC employees and is a prominent feature in contracts CNA has with other hospitals.

A sympathy strike would be unfair to patients

As you know, AFSCME has called for a three-day systemwide strike for its members beginning Monday, May 7, and running through Wednesday, May 9. CNA has notified UC that it is asking its members to strike in sympathy with AFSCME on the second two days of the AFSCME strike, Tuesday, May 8 and Wednesday, May 9.

While our hope is that you continue to report to work on each of your scheduled work days next week, in order to continue to provide the excellent care that our patients deserve, our expectation is that you report for any scheduled shift on Monday, May 7, when there is no announced sympathy action for nurses.

You are not obligated to strike. You may come to work, and we hope you will for the sake of the patients and others who depend on you.