Federation of Nurses/UFT members who are Licensed Practical Nurses with VNS Health overwhelmingly ratified a contract on Jan. 26 that provides a 6.6% increase in base salaries over two years while preserving current premium-free health benefits and establishing a forum to address the crucial issue of caseload.
“Our union team was committed to addressing the concerns of all our members,” said UFT Vice President Anne Goldman, who leads the Federation of Nurses/UFT. “The result shows the strength and solidarity of our union.”
The contract, which went into effect on Feb. 1 and runs through January 2025, features a 3% pay hike effective April 1, 2023, followed by a 3.5% increase on April 1, 2024, raising the base salary by a minimum of $4,200 in just more than a year.
The agreement also establishes a regular opportunity for dialogue dedicated to case assignment, which is a retention issue for nurses.
“Case assignment issues are the No. 1 reason nurses decide not to stay at VNS,” said Karen Boothe, the UFT chapter chair and a member of the negotiating committee.
“It’s not about the money; it’s about knowing you can get through your day without feeling pressured or without being bullied into seeing additional cases that you know is not safe.” Unrealistic caseloads can affect not only patient care, Boothe explained, but also can disrupt the geographic flow of a nurse’s day. When there is more travel time between visits, it’s difficult to complete all the necessary patient care and paperwork during visits, and nurses often take their notes home to finish.
The contract provides for one yearly meeting dedicated to case assignment and allows the issue to be addressed at any of the quarterly meetings established in the last contract.
The contract makes tuition reimbursement more accessible for Licensed Practical Nurses to go back to school to become Registered Nurses.
The experience differential on each of three levels has increased: for LPNs with five to nine years of experience, the differential is up 17% to $1,400; for LPNs with 10-14 years of experience, it is up 11% to $2,000; and for LPNs with more than 15 years of experience, it is up 8% to $2,600.
The compensation for preceptors — nurses who teach and mentor new colleagues — also increased.