California Nurses Bring a Better Hospital to their Community

More than 700 nurses at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, California, kicked off 2018 with a four-year contract that will help retain quality nurses and improve patient care.

The UNAC/UHCP members began negotiations with the hospital last summer determined to overcome a three-year pay freeze that contributed to a revolving door of nurses. Their new contract includes significant pay increases and an updated clinical ladder that will encourage and help nurses further their education.

"You have to speak up for what is right for you and the patients in order to make changes," said Maria Rosas, a registered nurse and bargaining team member. "I feel rewarded when patients get better and go home. That's why we always want to make patient safety our goal."

AFSCME members like Rosas see themselves not just as nurses, but as advocates for their community. That is why in November St. Francis nurses held a candlelight prayer vigil to shed light on issues at the hospital.

"Safe staffing saves lives," said Scott Byington, the local union president. "Our new contract will empower many nurses to feel more respected. This is how we attract and retain experienced staff."

AFSCME members at St. Francis provide care for an underserved population with many lacking health insurance. Now with their new contract, nurses will have the resources to continue working there.

“I feel blessed to be a nurse,” said Ana Bergeron, who also served on the bargaining team. “As an immigrant I saw a need for my community, and it feels good to be that link.”