Labor Flexes Muscles In Massachusetts And Minnesota; Nurses Struggle With Job Hunt Despite Shortage

Massachusetts's largest health care union is going to try to pull workers at Boston's leading medical centers: Massachusetts General, Brigham and Women's, Beth Israel Deaconess and Tufts hospitals, The Boston Globe reports. The union, led by Veronica Turner since last month, forged a deal in 2009 with Caritas Christi Health Care that gave 3,000 employees raises and bonuses. That agreement could serve as a template for deals with the other hospitals, Turner said. Executives for the hospitals wouldn't discuss their plans for negotiations with the unions, but some of the facilities already have some unionized workers, such as the nurses at Brigham and Women's Hospital, which is owned by Partners HealthCare System (Weisman, 7/6).

Also in labor news: "On Tuesday, 12,000 Twin Cities Nurses will vote on whether to ratify a contract proposal with 14 Twin Cities hospitals," WCCO, a Minneapolis CBS affiliate, reports. "Tuesday was supposed to be the date that nurses were to begin striking, but that strike was called off after a surprise agreement was reached late last week." The deal maintains pension and health coverage for nurses and provides a 3 percent raise over three years, but does not increase the nurse-to-patient ratio, a key union demand (Murphy, 7/5).

Meanwhile, nurses like Courtney Hansen, a newly minted nursing school graduate, are having a tough time finding jobs, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. Her "situation is increasingly becoming common in California, where 40 percent of new nursing graduates may not find work as quickly as they thought, according to a survey conducted last year by the California Institute for Nursing & Health Care. … Researchers interviewed employers and found that even with the state's projected nursing shortage, the sour economy has encouraged more seasoned nurses to stay on past retirement or else re-enter the profession" (Abram, 7/5).

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