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Q: How are the negotiations teams selected?

A: We select our bargaining team based on specific skills, in this case in both human resources and nursing. The SVMH bargaining team has extensive experience in employee relations, nursing, finance and negotiations and includes respected legal counsel.

Q: How long will negotiations last?

A: We can’t now predict that, but hope we make good progress at every session and have offered additional sessions any time the CNA negotiations can meet.

Q: Will there be a strike like there was a few years ago?

A: We hope to reach agreement on a contract without any destructive work actions. A strike would not be our choice and is good for no one – not for our reputation, not for our people and not for the patients who rely on us. We are committed to good faith bargaining that will get us to an agreement as soon as possible.

Q: What happens if the contract is allowed to expire? Would that force a strike?

A: Not necessarily, no. We can continue negotiations even without an contract extension although we would prefer to extend the contract until that time we reach agreement. We are currently operating under a contract extension agreed to by the union and the healthcare district.

Q: Why make any changes to our healthcare plan? I like it as it is.

A: It’s a reality of health care these days that health plans are always changing. This is in part based on new requirements of the Affordable Care Act and in part because employers negotiate with insurance companies and providers to get the best deal and best coverage for employees.

Our health plan proposal includes a variety of plans, including basic individual coverage at no cost to employees and. Those who take advantage of Salinas Valley Memorial’s own doctors and network will in many cases pay little or nothing for physician and hospital services. SVMH will continue to pay a significant share of the cost for employee health coverage – about 80 percent of the cost by 2017 when the plan is fully phased in.

The proposed health benefits include no-cost or low-cost services here at Salinas Valley Memorial and“wellness” coverage that provides free preventive care among many other options and benefits.

Q: What is impasse?

A: Impasse is the point in the negotiations process when one or both sides believes that no further progress toward an agreement can be made through traditional collective bargaining.

Q: What happens next?

A: Under the Public Employment Relations Board process, a neutral Fact Finder could be appointed to review and assess the negotiations to the point that impasse was declared. Following this investigation, the Fact Finder would recommend terms of a settlement.

Q: What about the nurse contract? Are nurses now working without a contract?

A: No. The contract with CNA remains in effect under an extension agreed to by the union and the hospital.