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Porter nurses’ contract includes pay increases

MIDDLEBURY — Nurses at University of Vermont/Porter Medical Center (PMC) will receive cost-of-living salary adjustments of 2 percent in each of the three years of their new deal, which also establishes a Nursing Practice Council that will help ensure “appropriate staffing levels” and “the highest quality patient and resident care” at the facility.
Porter administrators and members of the Porter Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (PFNHP) reached a tentative accord following a 13-hour bargaining session on Sunday. The pact became official on Friday, Sept. 22, once members of the nurses’ union ratified the agreement, which will extend through Sept. 30, 2020.
Union officials said the pay increases will amount to 8.5 percent over the three-year contract, when one factors in additional compensation recognizing years of experience.
The contract covers nurses who work at Porter Hospital, Helen Porter Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center, and the network of around a dozen physicians’ offices affiliated with PMC.
“This agreement shows the commitment of our members to ensuring that our community gets the best care when they come to the facility,” said Alice Leo, president of the nurses’ union, “and could not have happened without that community’s support.”
“We try to make adjustments for staff wages based on market data so we can remain competitive in recruiting,” Hallman said.
PMC will offer its nurses the same Blue Cross/Blue Shield health plan that they currently receive, according to Hallman.
The new Nursing Practice Council responds to the union’s concerns about maintaining “safe staffing levels” at Porter. The union conveyed that concern through red lawn signs posted throughout the county.
“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,” said Karen Beinhaur, Porter’s chief nursing officer.
The new council will also help to design a BSN program that will provide financial support for nurses who want 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,” Beinhaur said.
Other than the new BSN program, other employment benefits for the Porter nurses will be consistent with benefits offered to other Porter staff, according to Hallman.
Porter CEO Dr. Fred Kniffin hailed the new contract through an email released on Friday.
“The hard work has been done to reach an agreement that is fair to everyone,” Kniffin said. “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.”
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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