A strike advisory vote for more than 700 nurses at MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital, scheduled for Friday, has been canceled.
The Washington State Nurses Association said in a news release sent shortly after 7 a.m. Friday that it had come to a tentative agreement with MultiCare Health System on nurse staffing ratios.
The groups arrived at the agreement at 5:30 a.m. Friday, after 17 straight hours of negotiating, said MultiCare spokeswoman Marce Edwards. The groups also negotiated Wednesday and into the early hours of Thursday morning.
“MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital stepped forward and worked with us to hammer out the first firm, detailed nurse-to-patient ratios ever included in a nurses contract in Washington state,” said Christine Himmelsbach, WSNA assistant executive director for labor relations, in a statement.
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Nurses must approve the agreement before it goes into effect. That contract ratification vote will come in January, according to Edwards.
“If ratified, the new contract will include generous wages and benefits, language defining the staffing standards applicable to Tacoma General nurses as they continue to provide the highest quality of care to our community, and a four-year contract duration,” Edwards wrote.
The union had been without a contract for a year. During that time, they staged rallies in front of the hospital and on area overpasses. They boycotted extra shifts. They moved to hold a strike advisory vote.
Throughout that time, nurses said they wanted better staffing ratios and elimination of a “break buddy” system that gives a nurse two 15-minute breaks per shift while another nurse watches over the patients assigned to both of them.
Hospital executives had said it would cost $13 million to hire up to 120 more nurses to cover breaks.
More details about the settlement were not available.