Meriter Nurses Ratify Contract With Pandemic-Related Changes

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Nurses at UnityPoint Health-Meriter have voted to ratify a two-year agreement between their union and the hospital, after securing some policy changes related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 850 nurses who work at the hospital voted almost unanimously Saturday to approve the contract, after threatening a strike that was supported by more than 2,500 people who pledged not to cross the picket line.

After weeks of bargaining between Meriter and the union, SEIU Healthcare, the hospital agreed to several demands brought on by the pandemic, including expanding and replenishing paid time off for nurses who used up their leave during that time. That adds up to 60 hours of addition paid time off to use this year to help them recover from the impacts of tending to coronavirus patients.

The nurses gained extra shift pay for staying past their scheduled hours or coming in on their days off, improved base pay and a greater voice in decisions during current and future public health crises. The agreement also increases wages as well as earned sick and vacation time, the State Journal reported.

As a part of the ratification, the union has agreed to withdraw workforce allegations submitted to the National Labor Relations Board, which Meriter disputed.