Northern Inyo Healthcare District, Union Workers reach three-year contract agreement

After months of bargaining, Northern Inyo Healthcare District and RN and Technical Unit
employees, represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 315, reached agreements, setting a framework for the District to strategically manage future wage and benefit changes for all employees. The District and union agree these changes will help NIHD ensure continuity of high-quality patient care, and obtain long-term financial stability while remaining a responsible steward of public funds.

To support District retention and recruitment, the agreements provide pay scale increases of 18 percent for the Technical Unit and 25.5 percent for Registered Nurses over the three-year contract term. In return, employees will begin contributing up to 3.5 percent to their retirement plans while reducing District contributions, and a 10 percent increase to medical, dental, and vision premiums over two years.

The agreement does not include any re-openers for the contract term, ensuring stability for the District for the next three years.

NIHD Chief Financial Officer Stephen DelRossi says the outcome of these agreements allows the District to continue its mission of balancing fiscal sustainability and wellness of the workforce through competitive benefits and compensation while respecting the District’s current fiscal state. “We are pleased to be able to leverage the savings from benefit changes and see those go into our employees’ pockets,” DelRossi said. “This is a win-win for the District as it allows us to reward the work of our staff while giving us a chance to continue seeking operational savings.”

Interim Chief Executive Officer Lionel “Chad” Chadwick thanked union and District negotiators for the hard work and diligence put into the agreements. “These are difficult financial times for the District, and we do not anticipate these agreements putting additional, substantial economic pressure on NIHD,” Chadwick said. “The District has much more work to do, and we thank AFSCME for working with us to positively move the District’s collective future forward.”

“These negotiations were long and difficult, but the agreements prioritize the retention of skilled local RNs and Patient Care Technical workers for our community, so they were overwhelmingly approved by union members,” explained RN Negotiator Anneke Bishop. According to Technical Unit negotiator Kaylyn Rickford, both contracts also include language to ensure fair treatment when employees or their families face their own medical emergencies. “We are proud that these negotiations move us toward a more supportive work environment for our frontline staff,” Rickford said.

NIHD and the union bargaining teams reached tentative Memorandums of Agreement (MOUs) on Feb. 9. The agreements went before the NIHD Board of Directors on Feb. 21 for approval. Both MOUs, one covering Registered Nurses and the other covering the Technical Unit, received unanimous board approval. The Technical Unit represents the Patient Care Technical, Business Office, Clerical, and Service Bargaining unit employees. Union employees voted to approve the agreements on Feb. 23. Both agreements run for three years covering Nov. 1, 2022, to Oct. 31, 2025.

According to NIHD Human Resources Director Alison Murray, implementing the agreements will take some time due to the significant changes to the benefits package, including retirement and Medical, Dental, and Vision insurance. “These wage increases will support our local employees and their families while making District pay highly competitive with market rates,” Murray says. “Also, this will allow us to recruit and retain long-term employees and reduce our overall dependency on contract labor.”

About Northern Inyo Healthcare District: Founded in 1946, Northern Inyo Healthcare District features a 25-bed critical access hospital, a 24-hour emergency department, a primary care rural health clinic, a diagnostic imaging center, and clinics specializing in women’s health, orthopedics, internal medicine, pediatrics and allergies, general surgery, colorectal surgery, breast cancer surgery, and urology. Continually striving to improve the health outcomes of those who rely on its services, Northern Inyo Healthcare District aims to improve our communities one life at a time. One team, one goal, your health.

(From Northern Inyo Healthcare District)

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