Strong On the Job & Online, Finley RNs Win Big

The SEIU nurses of Finley Hospital in Dubuque just showed how to win online and on the job for their patients. After an intense contract campaign with unified action in the hospital and robust outreach on Facebook, the 380 Finley RNs won a contract with raises up to 15.5 percent for some nurses over the next two years.

Finley RNs ratified the two-year contract unanimously, 55-0, on Oct. 30. “This was an amazing outcome,” said Finley chapter president Karen Schneider. “We’ve put in place a strong foundation to build on in future contracts.”

The new contract will go into effect on Nov. 7 and it will establish a strong new pay structure for RNs at the hospital. A major concern going into bargaining was uncompetitive pay for many nurses, which was contributing to turnover problems in a number of departments.

But with the new contract, about a third of Finley RNs — those at the lower-end of pay scales — will receive a first round of raises in April 2019. Then in June 2019, all Finley nurses will receive another raise of 2 percent. In June 2020, Finley RNs will receive another across-the-board raise of 2.25 percent. Any market adjustments the administration makes over the next two years will be in addition to those raises.

It took a strong campaign by the Finley nurses to win this strong contract. Bargaining got off to a difficult start in September with proposals from management to cut paid-time-off and remove clinic and visiting nurses from the SEIU bargaining unit. But that’s when Finley nurses really stepped up.

The RNs and their supporters flooded the chapter’s Facebook page with more than 50 comments right after the first day of bargaining and started spreading the word to the community about their campaign to protect patient care. Many of their Facebook posts and comments during bargaining reached thousands of people outside the hospital. Some reached more than 4,000 people.

Combined with their activity in the hospital — see pictures from their sticker days here and here — the Finley nurses were able to turn back the takeaways and win arguably their best contract ever.

For the Finley nurses to keep winning going forward, Schneider, the chapter president, offered advice that’s relevant to all SEIU members in Iowa: “I would like to strongly encourage those of you who are not dues paying members at this point to consider becoming a member and getting involved as well.”

That year-round commitment to our union will give us all the ability to be even stronger advocates for the public we serve in Iowa. Here’s the link to our union webpage where all public employee members of SEIU Local 199 can sign up.

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