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No strike at Tuality; new nursing contract signed

Nurses narrowly approve a three-year labor pact with management

Tuality Healthcare nurses narrowly approved a new three-year contract in a vote Tursday night, dispelling talk of a nursing strike.

Scott Palmer, Oregon Nurses Association spokesman, said that half of the 272 nurses eligible to vote participated, and 54 percent approved of the contract.

'That is what we would call a squeaker,' Palmer said.

The new contract went into effect immediately and includes a guaranteed 4 percent annual pay increase for all staff and an assurance that medical coverage will not be diminished during the life of the contract.

Some nurses at Tuality said the chief complaints among those opposed to the new contract was that pay increases didn't match inflation and that the contract included no provision to reduce the cost of health care.

The contract also creates higher maximum pay levels for long-time employees; guarantees that the hospital will pay 80 percent of health-care premiums for dependents of full-time employees; and, increases wage bonuses for standby, relief and off-hour work.

'We're very pleased that a satisfactory settlement was reached for both parties," said Eunice Rech, Tuality's chief clinical officer in a statement.

Fewer than half of Tuality's nurses pay union dues. The contract does not cover the nursing staff at the hospital's group's Forest Grove location.