• 530.541.3420 | 2170 South Avenue, S. Lake Tahoe, CA

Contract Negotiations Update

Background Information

Barton Health is committed to delivering safe, high-quality care to the Lake Tahoe community and its visitors.

In November 2017, Barton Memorial Hospital Registered Nurses (RNs) voted to join the California nurses’ union. In March 2018, Barton Health and the union began negotiating a first contract. Three nurse representatives and two union representatives meet with representatives from Barton Health, including Barton’s Chief Nursing Officer, Human Resources Director and an outside labor attorney, to negotiate the many proposals that make up a contract.

This initial contract sets decisions and agreements in place for years to come, and Barton understands the importance of getting this initial contract right. We believe this contract should be fair to both our nurses and our organization. We have taken and will continue to take special care with each proposal and tentative agreement that results in the full contract.

Both parties have met at the bargaining table over 41 sessions reaching 29 Tentative Agreements (TAs) since March 2018.

Our nurses and staff provide outstanding patient care to this community, and we value their contributions.


Status & Next Steps

  • As of August 27, 2019, 41 sessions have been held and 29 Tentative Agreements have been reached.
    • Four bargaining sessions have been attended by a representative from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
  • In April 2019, Barton Health and CNA both filed Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against each other contending each party was refusing to engage in good faith collective bargaining.
    • In August 2019, the NLRB found no merit to the ULP filed by the union against Barton Health.
    • In September 2019, the NLRB substantiated the ULP charge against the union and required the union comply with Barton’s request to provide a copy of a contract from a hospital similar to Barton. In the spirit of cooperation, Barton has dropped the additional charges.
  • Scheduled Negotiation Dates:
    • September 24, 2019 - cancelled due to strike notice
    • September 25, 2019 - cancelled due to strike notice

Just the Facts

  • November 2017 - Barton Memorial Hospital nurses voted to join the California Nurse's Association (CNA).
  • March 2018 - Initial contract negotiation meeting.
  • 29 - Number of Tentative Agreements reached (as of July 24, 2019).

Nurses at Barton Health

By The Numbers

  • 178 – number of nurses in the CNA bargaining unit
  • 227 – number of nurses employed at Barton Health
  • Compensation (Benefits, ETO, Wages):

    Barton nurses and all employees are fairly compensated, receive a generous vacation package and competitive health benefits.
    • The average wage for a full-time nurse at Barton is $48 per hour or $99,000 per year.
    • New employees receive 4.5 weeks of earned paid time off a year, and this quickly grows to 7 weeks -- almost two months -- of earned time off after 5 years for full time employees. After 10 years, full time employees accrue 8 weeks of ETO annually.
    • Barton offers a choice of three health benefit plans, where the most popular plan costs just $20-60 per pay period for medical/vision healthcare coverage depending on the size of their family.
    • Barton offers a 403b Retirement plan matching funds up to 5%.

FAQs

  • Which nurses are included in the bargaining unit? Nurses represented by the California Nurses Association include nurses at Barton Memorial Hospital and Lake Tahoe Surgery Center. Outpatient nurses at Barton Health locations outside of the hospital or surgery center are not represented by CNA or a part of this contract negotiation.
  • How are wages determined? Barton takes many factors into consideration when setting wages. We must be competitive with similar-sized hospitals in both CA and NV. We must be fair, treating employees equitably regardless of whether they are part of a labor union. Since we do not have a parent company healthcare system to support us in challenging times, we must ensure that our overall financial picture is balanced without increasing the cost of care to our patients.
  • What is Barton’s turnover rate for RNs? Retention for RNs working at Barton continues to be at or lower than CA state averages.
    2016: Barton = 9.5%/ CA = 10.7%
    2017: Barton = 8.7%/ CA = 11.4%
    2018: Barton = 11%/ CA = 10.5%
    2019 (Quarter 1): Barton = 1.7%/ CA = 3.0%
  • What is union membership (“Association Security”)? The state laws of Nevada and California are different when it comes to union membership: Nevada state law makes it unlawful to require employees to join a union while California law says an employer and union can decide together if RNs are required to join the union. Barton employs nurses in both states and wants the same rule to apply to all union nurses regardless of the state in which they work. All union nurses would have the choice to opt in or out of the union once the contract is final; and we will respect and support their decision.
  • Are staffing ratios safe? Yes, staffing ratios are set by law and Barton Health meets or exceeds California state requirements for staffing ratios. In 2017, Barton Health requested to remove the rural ratio waiver from the state to increase its required staff ratio to 1 nurse for every 5 patients in Med/Surg/Ortho (previously it was 1 to 6). Once approved, Barton began recruiting additional RNs to reach the 1:5 ratio. Additionally, since 2017, Barton has added 31 nurses to the team increasing coverage for all departments.
  • Do nurses receive adequate breaks? Many of our nurses work 12 hour shifts. Barton Health offers three 15-minute breaks per 12 hour shift in addition to a 30 minute meal period, so our nurses are rested and ready to provide exceptional care. If a nurse cannot take their third break. Barton then pays them for one additional hour based on the missed 15-minute break, in compliance with California law.

    Barton Health offers 15 minute break periods exceeding the 10 minute break periods required by California law.

       Breaks per Shift
    CA Law  3 10-minute breaks per shift
    Barton Health   3 15-minute breaks per shift
  • What healthcare benefits does Barton provide its nurses? Barton provides all employees with three health plans to choose from. The plans provide coverage levels with differing deductibles: two PPO plans with different premiums and deductibles ($750 or $2,500) or a high deductible health saving account (HSA) that falls between the two PPOs in terms of cost, but includes a deductible that must be met before the financial benefits kick in.

    Our least expensive plan costs $40-$120 per pay period, depending if the employee insures only themselves or their family. If the employee opts to participate in Barton’s wellness program, that premium drops 50 percent, to $20 for an individual and $60 for a full family. Each option includes this 50 percent reduction to the premium if the employee participates in Barton’s wellness plan, which helps employees achieve optimum health by offering education, classes, and support toward other health-related goals such as weight loss and smoking cessation.

    Additionally, copays for the PPO plans are deeply discounted, and don't require employees to meet deductibles, if the employee uses a Barton facility or provider. Some examples include:
    • Doctor visits and urgent care: $25 per visit
    • Rehabilitation: $25 per visit
    • MRI/ CT/ PET: $250
    • Inpatient hospital visit: $750 per admission
    • X-rays and Lab: $35
    • Generic drugs: $15
  • Does Barton send its employees to Collections? Barton treats all patients the same and utilizes common billing practices following hospital national standards. Employees, just like all other patients, are expected to pay their bills or set up a payment plan within 90 days of receiving their first statement.

    After the insurance company has paid its part of a patient’s bill, Barton sends a statement to patients every 28 days asking for payment or asking patients to set up a payment plan. After three statements, if there is no patient response, Barton sends a pre-collection letter. The pre-collection letter informs a patient that payment is expected and they are encouraged to take advantage of an interest-free payment plan, which they have 10 days to establish. If no patient response or payment plan is made only then will the account be sent to Barton’s outside collection agencies. A patient is only sent to collections after months of multiple communications and without payment in full or an interest-free payment plan set-up.

    Barton has provided the union with information stating that between 2014 and 2018 an average of thirteen nurses per year (which equates to 7%) were sent to collections for not paying their medical bill in full or setting up an interest-free payment plan.
  • What does Barton do with its profits? As an independent, non-profit hospital, Barton Health reinvests all of its earnings back into the health system to provide care for the community we serve. This includes contracting quality providers, purchasing modern technology and equipment to save lives, and offering a breadth of services for our community. Over the last 5 years, Barton has invested $65 million back into the health system.
  • If nurses strike, will the hospital remain opened? All services at Barton Memorial Hospital will remain open to serve the community. We have made arrangements during the event a strike is called to hire qualified replacement nurses. The staffing agency is well known for employing nurses with experience during labor actions. Barton has made clear to the staffing agency all the necessary qualifications needed in each department. These experienced, high-quality nurses will work alongside Barton staff, leaders and physicians providing the care needed to our patients and community.

    The Lake Tahoe Surgery Center will reschedule patients during this time period to either Barton Memorial Hospital.
  • How long will replacement nurses be used? When hospitals and healthcare providers receive a strike notice from CNA – which has occurred numerous times over the years – the union knows that healthcare providers such as Barton Health are required to hire qualified replacement nurses to replace striking nurses. Barton's contract with the staffing agency requires a 5-day minimum for the replacement nurses, which is standard. The National Labor Relations Board has upheld as lawful healthcare employers' right to a 5-day replacement period for contract nurses to work.
  • Will this affect patient care? No, Barton Health will maintain the mandated amount of nursing care using qualified RNs. Patient safety is of utmost importance and safe patient-nurse ratios will not be compromised.

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