Appeal-Democrat Archive Writing

Nurses try to rally public

June 13, 2007

A newly formed nurses’ union at Fremont-Rideout Health Group is trying to rally community support for its contract demands.

“We’re disappointed with the lack of change,” said union spokesman Dan Lawson.

Today, nurses will deliver petitions with more than 2,500 signatures from community members to Lisa Del Pero, who chairs Fremont-Rideout’s board of directors.

The petitions support the union’s call for lower patient-staff ratios and higher standards for floating nurses, Lawson said.

Floaters are nurses who move between departments.

The higher standards would ensure that those nurses were properly trained to fill the positions where they would roam, Lawson said.

The nurses voted to unionize in September.

Fremont-Rideout’s administrators are looking over the proposals that were presented by the union in May, said CEO Theresa Hamilton.

It’s not clear how long it will take to look at the impact of the union’s demands.

Part of the proposal calls for nurses to get a 15 percent annual raise. With a current average wage of $36 per hour, the cost of the nurses’ demands will have a big impact on the budget.

“We want a fair contract, but we want one that offers economic stability,” Hamilton said.

Without that stability, she said it would be unclear how Fremont-Rideout could continue its focus on safety and quality.