Nurses union approves 3-year contract with Lifespan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — After nearly two months of working without a contract, the union that represents Rhode Island Hospital employees has voted to approve a new three-year deal with Lifespan.

The United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP) Local 5098 represents nearly 2,300 nurses, technologists, therapists and allied health professionals at the hospital.

The previous contract expired June 30, and union members began working without a contract at the beginning of August. The union’s executive board was authorized to issue a 10-day strike notice in an equitable agreement could not be reached.

“This contract protects the wages and benefits of dedicated front-line caregivers at a time when health professionals are constantly asked to do more with less,” said union president Helene Macedo in a statement. “I’m grateful to our members who have lived and worked under great pressure and uncertainty since contract negotiations began. Their professionalism has been exceptional and they deserve an agreement that respects the difficult work that they do.”

The union rejected the last contract proposal from hospital management Sept. 18.

Rhode Island Hospital released the following statement Tuesday:

Rhode Island Hospital was pleased to learn that the United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP) ratified a new three-year labor agreement with Rhode Island Hospital. We believe the contract provides our nurses and technical professionals with a fair wage and benefits package.

The hospital is committed to demonstrating the high value we place on all of our employees. We look forward to working closely with UNAP and its members as we continue to build upon the world-class care we provide our patients.”

The union said one issue they weren’t able to address during the negotiations was that of unsafe staffing, in which nurses are assigned too many patients at once.

Macedo said unsafe staffing “adversely impacts patient care and pushes nurses beyond the limit,” adding that she plans to continue pushing lawmakers to pass the Patient Safety Act, which aims to establish limits on the number of patients a nurse can treat at one time.

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