As Unit 17 returns to the table once again to negotiate with the State, our bargaining team is fighting to solve the urgent problems faced by Registered Nurses and make their needs a priority at the table.

Unit 17’s bargaining session opened with a presentation from a subject matter expert, Dr. Taffany Hwang, who presented the troubling situation facing nurses in state service. Rising separation rates, which have led to high vacancy rates are crippling nurse’s ability to provide high-standard quality care to California’s vulnerable population. Overworked, underpaid, and undervalued, nurses are burnt out and need solutions now.  

“Our focus today was upward mobility and compensation, and we have proposed major reforms,” said Vanessa Seastrong, Unit 17 Chair. “These issues have plagued nurses throughout the last three years leading to separation rates above the national average and crisis-level vacancy rates.”

The new language sections proposed today address some of the most critical issues facing nurses.

Unit 17 proposed the following three sections of the new language today:

  • 11.X.17 Salary Adjustments (Unit 17)
  • 11.17.17 Recruitment and Retention Differential (R&R) (Unit 17)
  • 13.11.17 Nursing and Upward Mobility Joint Labor Management Committee (Unit 17)

Responding to the State’s concerns voiced at Mandatory Overtime Committees last year, Unit 17 proposed language to automatically implement a recruitment and retention differential of $800 for any department that has a vacancy rate of 20% or greater.

“We believe this will help departments that are understaffed by improving retention and compensating overworked nurses,” said team member Sheila Coonan.

Unit 17 also proposed an article today that recognizes and addresses the cost-of-living crisis impacting nurses.

“Nursing should be seen as an attractive position in state service,” said Alternate Vice Chair Bob Mutebi. “We want the state to show the value of these positions by raising salaries to compete with private sector wages. Fair pay is vital to nurses, leading to safer staffing and patient care.”

Unit 17 proposed a 15% salary adjustment, in addition to whatever GSI is ultimately reached at the Master Table. The bargaining team is continuing to focus on raising the wages of nurses who have been underpaid and undervalued for far too long.

Implementing an upward mobility ladder would help retain experienced nurses by giving them opportunities to advance within Unit 17 and to mentor coworkers.

“Dr. Hwang did a very good job identifying the issues in upward mobility in her classification, as a Nurse Consultant III,” said team member Felicia Barbato. “In general, it’s hard for a lot of nurses to have opportunities to advance in their classifications without having to go into management or leave the state.”

While our Unit 17 bargaining team continues to negotiate with the State, we continue to prioritize the demands voiced by registered nurses at the table.

Today, the State reached a tentative agreement on the following sections:

  • 9.21.17 Reasonable Accommodation (Unit 17)
  • 10.7.17 Protective Clothing and Equipment (Unit 17)
  • 10.38.17 Rest Areas (Unit 17)
  • 13.25.17 Mandatory Training (Unit 17)
  • 19.6.17 Show Up Time (Unit 17)
  • 19.16.17 Change in Shift Assignment (Unit 17)
  • 19.17.17 Mixed Shift Work Weeks (Unit 17)
  • 19.19.17 Work Week Group (WWG) Definitions (Unit 17)
  • 21.19.17 Nursing Policy and Procedures Manual (Unit 17)

Additionally, Unit 17 received the State’s counter proposal on the following section:

  • 10.11.17 Hazardous Materials (Unit 17)

The State proposed one rollover section to the union at today’s bargaining session:

  • 10.37.17 Wellness Programs (Unit 17)

“In the next four sessions of bargaining, we hope to see counterproposals offered and tentative agreements reached on our outstanding article sections,” said Seastrong.

Unit 17 returns to the table next week, on Tuesday, June 6. To see updates on other bargaining unit contract sessions, please visit the Contract Action Center page at

There’s real truth to the Local 1000 slogan, Stronger Together. We only win a great contract with a strong Local 1000 membership. So, if you’re not already a member, we encourage you to join us today.

And be sure to save your spot for the upcoming June 8 March to the Governor’s mansion here.