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UC Nurses Ratify Pact

June 22, 2002|NERISSA PACIO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Nurses at the University of California's five medical centers voted overwhelmingly Friday to ratify a contract praised by union leaders as historic.

The contract, which received 95% approval from the system's 8,000 nurses, pays them based on seniority and boosts salaries an average of 19% to 25% over the next three years. It eliminates the merit pay-based system the nurses have battled.

"This goes to the heart of recruitment and retention in the most comprehensive agreement we've seen in this country," Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of the 45,000-member California Nurses Assn., said after the vote. "Nurses are leaving hospitals in droves.... What we sought to do in this contract is reverse that trend."

The contract comes after four months of negotiations that were sometimes marked by bitterness, charges of unfair labor practices and the threat of a strike.

UC officials had sought a restraining order against a strike, which they said might force them to close trauma centers.

But when agreement was reached in late May, UC officials said the new program would benefit all sides, especially patients.

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