Registered nurses at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to ratify a tentative contract that provides an average 21% wage increase over three years and improves retirement benefits.
The agreement, hammered out Sunday by negotiators for the hospital and the California Nurses Assn., is the first for Long Beach Memorial's 1,300 registered nurses, who began negotiations with the hospital in February and staged two one-day strikes this fall.
The vote was 782 in favor and 44 against accepting the agreement, union officials said.
"It's a great day for nursing in Southern California," said David Johnson, a union spokesman.
In addition to pay raises, the nurses will receive increased retirement benefits and a greater say in staffing and workplace issues.
The contract settlement is part of a push to organize hospital nurses in Southern California, where most registered nurses have not belonged to a union.
One of five hospitals run by Memorial Health Services, Long Beach Memorial has 741 beds and, after Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, is the second largest privately operated hospital in the West.