MIDDLEBURY–On Friday September 22, the University of Vermont/Porter Medical Center announced a new three-year contract with the union representing the Porter nursing staff that will run through September 30, 2020.
“We are very pleased to have successfully concluded these negotiations which I would characterize as a respectful process, where both sides listened to each other to find common ground for determining a fair and reasonable contract for our nurses”, said Porter spokesperson Ron Hallman.
Hallman indicated that there were a total of 11 meetings that occurred from June until the final session on Sunday, September 17, which lasted more than 13 hours.
The new contract creates a new “Nursing Practice Council” that will promote what Porter Chief Nursing Officer Karen Beinhaur calls a “shared governance model” between nurses and administration. “This new council will have equal representation of nurses and administrators and is intended to promote a collaborative approach to ensuring that we are providing appropriate staffing levels and maintaining the highest quality patient and resident care”, she said. Further, the new contract also provides fair wages. In addition to providing the nurses with a 2% cost of living adjustment annually, Porter will make other market-based wage adjustments during the duration of the contract in recognition of changes in the wage market for nurses, which is consistent with the organization-wide market adjustment program that Porter has in place for all positions.
The new Nurse Practice Council will also help to design another new initiative which is the creation of a BSN program which will provide financial support for nurses who wish to continue their education. “Porter will be providing extra funds for our nurses who wish to pursue their BSN degree as a way of supporting professional education and providing us with another way of attracting and retaining outstanding nurses throughout our organization”, she added. Other than the new BSN program, other employment benefits for the Porter nurses will be consistent with benefits offered to other Porter staff.
Porter CEO Dr. Fred Kniffin acknowledged the agreement in a message to all Porter employees. “The hard work has been done to reach an agreement that is fair to everyone. I now invite each of you to join in the ongoing and important work of making Porter the best place we could ever want to work, and the best place we could ever want to be a patient”.