Nurses at Logan Health voted Thursday night in favor of ratifying a new union labor contract with the hospital effective through July 2026, which will provide wage increases, including an immediate 11.5% raise.
Some details of the contract agreement were shared in a press release issued Friday by SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, the union which represents nurses at the hospital. The press release referred to the 11.5% raise upon ratification as “the largest one-time wage increase won by Montana nurses in recent memory” and stated that over 23 months, the nurses will see a minimum 20% cost-of-living increase in addition to wage step increases for most.
“We have faced severe staffing shortage in the wake of the pandemic and were behind the rest of the state in terms of wages,” Cindy Hinzman, a nurse and member of the bargaining team, said in the press release. “We persevered and came together to win a contract that will allow us to recruit and retain nurses from around the state and nation.”
The new contract also includes an hourly on-call wage of $6 for surgical services nurses, protections against increases to health insurance costs, “expanded” preceptor pay, credit for past experience, and stronger language to allow union delegates and organizers access to hospital facilities, according to the press release.
The union press release describes the new contract with Logan Health as marking “a strong commitment to recruiting and retaining local, experienced healthcare workers in the Flathead Valley to better care for the communities that Logan Health serves, instead of relying on expensive temporary contracts for traveler staff.”
According to the union, in addition to the immediate 11.5% raise, nurses will receive a raise of 4% in July 2024 and 3% in July 2025.
The first bargaining session over the new contract was in January. Logan and the nurses’ union reached a tentative contract agreement about a week before nurses voted in favor of the deal. The vote to ratify the contract took place hours after Logan Health and the Billings Clinic announced that their merger would become official in September of this year.
This is the second contract that the union has negotiated since it formed in 2019. The first contract negotiations deadlocked at times over wages and staffing issues, which resulted in a three-day unfair labor practice strike. Each side had accused the other of intimidation and misrepresenting negotiations, the Beacon reported at the time. Unionized nurses at Logan Health voted to approve their first contract in September 2021. That contract, effective through 2023, included 7% pay increases across the board, a new wage scale based on experience, and an annual review of experience to determine placement on the wage scale, a union representative said at the time.
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