After months of negotiating and a one-day strike on Feb. 1 to protest proposed changes to their health care coverage, 65 unionized imaging technicians have reached a contract settlement with Marin General Hospital, according to the National Union of Healthcare Workers and the hospital.
The workers’ contract expired in October.
The agreed-upon health care cost-sharing rates are close to the hospital’s initial proposal because the technicians came out on the winning end of a new pay structure, according to the union, which stated they received “very significant wage increases.”
The new five-year contract calls for an immediate wage increase that amounts to approximately 7 percent across the board, as well as a new wage-scale structure where, on average, the workers will receive more than a 30 percent wage increase over the life of the contract, according to NUHW.
Marin General Hospital initially offered a 6 percent wage increase across the board over five years, according to the union. The hospital commented on the outcome of the contract but not the terms.
“We are excited that we have come to a mutually agreed-upon settlement,” said Marin General spokeswoman Jamie Maites. “We are also happy to report that high-quality patient care, service and safety continued during this time.”
The union said the technicians’ portion of the health care costs will be minimal this year and go up in 2020. After that, there will be a cap on the increase year over year based on the market cost of the premium increase on the employer, according to NUHW. There is a total cap of 6 percent over the life of the contract.
The new health care plan will take effect during open enrollment in July, according to the union. Open enrollment had been scheduled for last November, but because a contract agreement couldn’t be reached, it was pushed to July. The new contract also includes a 100 percent employer-paid health maintenance organization option, the union said.
“It’s been a journey,” said Shannon Wolfe, a cardiac sonographer at the hospital and union member, who had been concerned he wouldn’t be able to afford to keep his young family on their PPO plan. “Things are better and we’re glad it’s settled.”
Marin General’s initial proposal stated that full-time workers wishing to keep the preferred provider organization plan would be required to pay $120 per month to insure themselves, or $359 per month to insure their families, the Business Journal reported Jan. 31.
The new five-year contract was unanimously ratified on March 21, according to NUHW.
The following day, the NUHW added, union members voted in an additional 28 employees, consisting of pharmacy technicians and nuclear-medicine technologists. All will be brought into the same bargaining unit as the imaging technicians who just reached the new agreement.