Vermont Business Magazine The union representing over half the staff at the Brattleboro Retreat have ratified a one-year contract. The summer had been a bitter one between management and workers following a sweeping schedule change for employees. Union members at times engaged in "informational pickets" at the private psychiatric hospital, but did not go on strike. While addressing those scheduling concerns, the new contract includes a $15 an hour minimum wage and sets a new pay scale for direct care staff.
The existing three-year contract expires today. The Brattleboro Retreat Local 5086 became part of United Nurses & Allied Professionals in 1999. The union represents about 550 nurses and mental health workers at the 870-employee facility.
The following is a joint statement from the Brattleboro Retreat and the United Nurses & Allied Professionals Local 5086:
“Brattleboro Retreat senior management and leaders of United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP) local 5086 are pleased to announce the ratification of a new one-year collective bargaining agreement effective Thursday, November 1st. We believe this new contract, which covers more than 550 Retreat employees including nurses and other direct care staff, sets a decidedly positive tone that establishes a new spirit of partnership between the union and management.
"The agreement was hammered out over 11 bargaining sessions that were both constructive and collaborative. It provides all union staff with a three percent wage increase, and, in addition, creates new market-based wage increases for RNs and mental health workers (MHWs). Members of both negotiating teams view the new wage scale as an historic step forward for the Retreat, and a vital factor in creating competitive wages that will help retain and attract much needed new front line staff.
"The new contract also sets minimum pay for MHWs at $15 an hour, and addresses a number of issues important to all concerned, including provisions to enhance work/life balance. The new pay scale for direct care staff places the Retreat at or above the regional healthcare labor market for RNs and MHWs, and will allow the hospital to be a highly competitive recruiter. Overall, we see this contract as a significant win for both the hospital and for the dedicated employees who make the Retreat an invaluable resource for people in need of high quality, specialized psychiatric and addiction treatment.”