Nurse Retirement Earnings

VENTURA, Calif. – After more than 19 negotiating sessions with the California Nurses Association (CNA), and consistent with the County of Ventura's goal of providing competitive total compensation packages to our dedicated nurses, the County, to date, has:

  • Signed a tentative agreement with CNA to implement a new wage grid for Operating Room Circulating Surgical Nurses at an annual cost of over $700,000 for just 17 nurses (representing an annual cost increase of more than $41,000 per nurse).
  • Offered the CNA union on February 5, 2016, a new wage grid with an average general salary increase of over 11 percent to improve career wages and total compensation. The increase in costs to the County of this offer is more than $12.2 million for 18 months. This 11 percent includes a pending 3 percent (approximately $2 million) increase due in June 2016 from the existing current contract.
  • Provided temporary increases for nurses while negotiations progress. The CNA Regular Unit increase will end on Feb. 21, 2016, and the Per Diem Unit increase ends on March 6, 2016. However, the County is hoping to come to agreement with CNA before the increases expire.

This recent County proposal follows a contract settlement with CNA in 2014 that provided an actuarially assumed salary and benefits increase of almost 12 percent (including a new wage grid, a 5 percent salary increase, one-time cash payments of up to $750, and increases to benefits, certification pay and holiday pay) at a cost increase of $13.8 million over three years.

Comparing County and CNA Proposals:

The graph below shows a comparison of the current proposals from both the County and CNA and how total hourly compensation increases by years of experience for a Registered Nurse II (RN II) compare to the market average:

nurse graph

The County's Total Compensation Package

The County's total compensation package includes certification pay up to $4.06 per hour, an education incentive ranging from 2.5 percent to 5.0 percent of base pay depending on the educational degree attained, and longevity pay to recognize long term employees. Additionally, the County offers a rich pension plan as a part of total compensation as illustrated below:

nurse retirement earnings

Negotiations Background:

In 2014, the County negotiated a contract with CNA to implement a 30-year wage grid to expand earning potential for nurses over the course of their careers, and to make other economic improvements for our nurses. The new wage grid provides for regular increases in pay based on years of experience, and its implementation was a key goal of the CNA union.

When the wage grid, one-time cash payments to nurses, and increases to benefits, holidays, and other forms of compensation were totaled, the CNA contract included actuarially assumed increases of up to a 12 percent for the term of the agreement.

In a rare move, the County then agreed to re-open this newly-signed agreement after only one year to further increase earnings and compensation. To be sure that County hospitals remained competitive and retained our quality nursing staff while the re-opened negotiations moved forward, the County entered into an agreement with CNA in the fall of 2015 to provide a temporary "Market Based Premium Pay."

This temporary payment provided:

  • Operating Room Surgical Circulating Nurses with an additional $20.00 per hour.
  • Nurses assigned to the Emergency Department or Intensive Care Unit with an additional $8.00 per hour.
  • All other nurses with a 6 percent wage increase.

The County's Market Analysis:

To ensure that the County of Ventura proposals are competitive with the surrounding market's total compensation packages, the County contracted with the Hospital Association of Southern California (HASC) to conduct a total compensation survey of local area public and private hospitals. The last installment of the HASC survey results were received in December 2015 and incorporated into the contract proposals to CNA.

The HASC survey found that for County RN II positions, a classification that comprises the largest number of County of Ventura nurses, beginning nurses have a compensation package that is competitive with the market, while more experienced nurses are behind market. In contrast, many of our other nurse classifications and job types were found to be at or above the market and not necessitating additional total compensation.

Moving Forward:

The compensation increases that the County of Ventura provided to its nurses during the last round of contract negotiations in 2014, coupled with the recent County proposals, would place the total compensation packages for nurses squarely within regional market averages.

"We are hopeful that we will soon reach agreement with the CNA regarding all outstanding compensation issues as we continue to work together to provide high quality, compassionate health care to residents throughout Ventura County," said Shawn Atin, Assistant County Executive Officer, Human Resources.

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