Two unions that backed a one-day strike at Fresenius Medical Care dialysis clinics in New York in June have reached contract agreements with the dialysis provider.

Eric Smith, area director for the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) told NN&I that the new contract will ensure that the Fresenius clinics are staffed with some of the best dialysis nurses in New York.

In addition to including benefits and wage increases, the new contract will allow NYSNA to work with Fresenius to create four professional practice committees for their clinics, which will empower nurses to help make decisions concerning patient safety measures and appropriate staffing levels. Fifty percent of each committee will be composed of nurses.

“The committees will allow us to get very local and very specific with the issues. Each clinic and its patients and staff are different, and they require a personalized approach to staffing and other safety issues,” Smith said. “It would be hard to tell an employer ‘we need 20 new nurses,’ but if we determine the third shift needs a part-timer, we can convince them of that need.”

Smith said they will follow the same committee model they already have in place with hospitals and other outpatient dialysis clinics.

“It’s a huge victory for patient safety and staffing.”

A press release from 1199 Service Employees International Union (SEIU) United Healthcare Workers East says that its members now “have guaranteed benefits, including medical, pension, job security, training, and child care until September 2021.”

According to SEIU, the deal will include the following benefits for its members:

  • Members will receive a ratification bonus of one week’s pay (about 2% of annual salary), in the first pay period after ratification. At the beginning of October another 2.75% increase will be paid. This will be followed by another 2.75% increase in 2018.
  • The committee also negotiated contractual minimum rates by classification. Differences in title and history had created an unfair disparity in pay among Equipment Techs/Biomed Techs, the union said, and going forward, all workers in the classification will have the title Biomed Tech. There will be raises for Biomed Techs earning less than $21/hr.
  • All members hired before 2007 will have protected status and cannot be laid off in the event of closures. As part of the Job Security Fund all members receive supplemental benefits, health coverage continuation, training, placement opportunities.
  • Going forward, all dietitians and social workers, who have not always been covered by the union, will be covered by the contract.