Federation of Nurses/UFT members employed by the Visiting Nurse Service of New York on Jan. 27 overwhelmingly ratified a two-year contract that preserves all their previous benefits and provides a minimum 7.62% pay increase over the next 14.5 months for full-time nurses.
“In an incredibly difficult time, you have been extraordinary,” Anne Goldman, the UFT vice president for non-DOE members, told the nurses who joined an informational Zoom call before the vote. “Know how hard the negotiating committee has worked on your behalf.”
Under the approved contract, all full-time base rates will increase by $1,500 as of March 1, followed by a 3% pay increase on April 1 and another 3% hike on April, 1, 2023.
“The best thing we were able to achieve was a more competitive salary,” said Raquel Webb-Geddes, the chapter chair. “We were proud to present that to our members.”
During the pandemic, other institutions have given their front-line workers a one-time “hazard pay” bonus. The VNSNY instead acknowledged what its employees have done during this difficult time by adding $1,500 to each member’s base pay, said Webb-Geddes, “which has more value and longevity than a one-time bonus,” as it will follow members year after year.
All education differentials also will increase by $100 on April 1, 2022, and the Outcome and Assessment Information Set (OASIS) Certification differential will increase by $75.
The contract also establishes a committee of in-service members to advocate for the training and education that nurses need most.
One of the toughest battles was over health care: The VNSNY sought to have the chapter’s more than 560 nurses join its health plan. Intent on no givebacks, the negotiating committee was able to ensure that all members will remain in the UFT Benefit Fund and pay no premium. The employer will fully fund nurses’ health care, with its contribution increasing 5.3% in 2022 and 7.2% in 2023.
“At a time when health care continues to be a political football and the cost per registered nurse continues to rise, that’s a huge victory,” Webb-Geddes said.
Donna Jones, a VNSNY nurse in the Bronx for 30 years, said VNS has always been among the lowest-paying home care services. “Based on this contract, I think we will be up there, and we deserve it, we deserve it, we deserve it,” Jones said.
Three things were important to Jones — “maintaining my pension, maintaining my health care and the monetary part,” she said.
“I am happy with this contract,” she said. “The negotiating committee worked hard. It’s a very tedious thing and management is not always easy, but they did good.”