Tenet Healthcare Corp., Santa Barbara, Calif., reached a labor agreement with the California Nurses Association, ending months of wrangling over benefits and a strike in at least one hospital. The three-year contract calls for annual wage increases of 8% for registered nurses in the first year, and 7% each of the next two years. In addition, the nation's second largest for-profit hospital chain said it will contribute 1% of wages to a new retirement medical savings account for eligible nurses. The CNA had taken issue with Tenet's lack of a traditional retirement benefit program for nurses. The agreement, which includes an arbitration clause and no-strike provision through Jan. 1, 2010, ended a 13-month nurse strike at Tenet's 131-bed Doctors Medical Center, San Pablo, Calif. Tenet-which faces a number of lawsuits and investigations over Medicare outlier payments, improper kickbacks to doctors and unnecessary surgery at one hospital-said the contract settles "almost all" existing grievances, unfair labor practice charges and other disputes with the union. Earlier this year, Tenet and the Service Employees International Union reached a master agreement covering most of Tenet's hospitals in California and a few in Florida. Tenet owns or operates 102 hospitals, including about 40 in California. -- by Laura B. Benko
Tenet, CNA reach broad accord thru 2010
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