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July 01, 2009

Fletcher Allen Nurses, Hospital to Sign Union Contract

The Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (VFNHP) and Fletcher Allen Heath Care administrators are expected to sign a new, three-year contract this week.

The deal comes after months of bargaining between the two sides, and after a successful union drive by tech workers. That group of employees voted 160-87 last Thursday night to join the union, which now represents RNs, LPNs and technical professionals at Fletcher Allen.

“We are pleased to settle this agreement which preserves the gains we have made for nurses and patient care," said Jen Henry, VFNHP president. "We welcome our new technical professional members and look forward to continuing our work with the hospital administration to provide the highest-quality patient care.”

One of the key aspects of the negotiations is an agreement that respects Fletcher Allen employees' right to make an informed decision whether or not to join a union, according to the union. The agreement provides for a quick and fair secret ballot, conducted by the National Labor Relations Board, and contains specific rules of conduct for both parties.

Negotiations with the tech professionals will begin soon, said union officials.

"We joined the VFNHP so that we can work with the nurses and the hospital to ensure respect for the employees and quality care for our patients," said Chris Gonyeau, a respiratory therapist.

Other aspects of the agreement include a preservation of the wage scale and wage step increases for RNs and LPNs and reduced cost to insured employees when they use Fletcher Allen services, among other agreements related to continuing improvement of patient care.

Fletcher Allen recently implemented a new electronic health-care records management system.

Sounds like good news. Take good care of nurses. They are the ones who really provide the health care when someone is sick or injured. The doctor comes and chats for 5 minutes- The nurse does everything else!

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