Maui Business

Nurses and Health Care Workers at Maui Health System Reach Tentative Agreement for New Contract

By Wendy Osher
February 27, 2021, 6:05 AM HST
* Updated February 28, 8:22 AM
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Maui Memorial Medical Center. PC: courtesy file image.

The registered nurses and other health care workers of Maui Health System have reached a tentative contract agreement with MHS management early Friday morning after a marathon meeting.

The union representing workers covered in the contract says the agreement rewards the risks taken and sacrifices made by these workers during the pandemic, while addressing other significant issues such as retention of experienced nurses, bringing up the wages of the lowest-paid workers, and giving nurses a voice in patient care. 

Maui Health released a statement on Friday evening in response to Maui Now’s request for comment saying:

“Maui Health has been in good faith negotiations for several months with the United Nurses Associations of California/Union Health Care Professionals (UNHCEH) to renew the contract. Today, a tentative agreement was reached and UNHCEH will be scheduling ratification meetings soon. We are grateful a tentative agreement has been made and remain optimistic it will soon be finalized.”

The agreement comes after eight months of negotiations which began on June 15, 2020 and ended this week assisted by a mediator with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

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The previous contract expired on June 30, 2020 but was extended by mutual agreement during bargaining.

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“We secured improvements in this new contract that will benefit the community as a whole as well as the staff,” said Phil Velasco, RN, Co-Chair of United Nurses and Health Care Employees of Hawaii (UNHCEH), a chapter of UNAC/UHCP. “I’m glad it’s done.

The union organized a vehicle parade on Feb. 15 in an attempt to “show management how important this was to everyone and bring the negotiations to a successful resolution,” said Velasco. The event drew participation from an estimated 500 people in 149 cars who celebrated “the risks and sacrifices made by these workers during the pandemic. “

A vehicle parade was held earlier this month in support of nurses and health care workers. PC: (Feb. 15, 2021) UNAC/UHCP

“We did make financial gains, but just being able to provide improved care for the community is very important,” said Velasco. “We addressed some significant issues, such as creation of a labor-management practice committee which gives nurses and staff input into patient care issues, such as acuity and care standards.”

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Union representative say they also won provisions to address the retention of experienced nurses and lift the wages of some lower-paid workers.

The agreement is tentative until UNHCEH members have the chance to meet, review it, and vote on it. Ratification meetings are being set up now, likely for next week.

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.
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