Photo courtesy of Committee for Recognition of Nursing Achievement

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After a week-long strike, the union representing nearly 5,000 nurses at Stanford Health Care and the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital has voted to approve a new, three-year contract with the hospitals. The nurses plan to return to work on Tuesday.

Both the hospitals and the nurses union, the Committee for the Recognition of Nursing Achievement, hailed the agreement as a success. “CRONA’s new contracts represent an enormous victory for nurses at Stanford and Packard, who have been fighting tirelessly for improved work and patient care conditions,” union president Colleen Borges, said in a statement. “We have won improvements across all the priorities nurses identified at the beginning of our contract campaign.” Eighty-three percent of the union voted in favor of the contract.

The nurses began striking on April 25 after weeks of negotiating with the hospitals. As my colleague Emily Hofstaedter wrote last month:

To avoid burnout and to continue to offer care during the chaos of the pandemic, the nurses say they need more staff, better mental health resources, better pay, and more paid time-off. More than ninety percent of the 5,000 nurses who belong to the Committee for Recognition of Nursing Achievement (CRONA) union at the two hospitals voted for the strike. 

According to the union statement, the new contract includes greater access to mental health care and wage increases of seven percent in 2022, five percent in 2023, and an additional five percent in 2024. Under the agreement, nurses in the union will be able to pre-schedule an additional week of vacation, among other benefits.

Late last month, just a day before the action started, I spoke with one of the nurses who voted to authorize the strike. She told me:

It’s very disappointing to be called health care heroes, and have all of this verbal praise lavished on us for the last two years, and then when it comes time to actually follow up those lovely sentiments with actions, it’s not there. And people are fed up with it. It’s time to put your money where your mouth is.

When I followed up with the nurse via text on Monday, she said she is “very pleased” with the contract and is excited to go back to caring for patients. “I think both sides made substantial compromises and as a result we got a contract that works for nurses and the hospital. Change happens incrementally and we gained significant improvements with this new contract.”

According to the union, the new contracts are a symbolic action as much as a tangible one, particularly in the wake of the pandemic. As union vice president Kathy Stormberg said in a statement, the agreements “acknowledge our immense value” as health care workers. “Hospitals across the country must step up their support for nurses, and we stand together with nurses nationwide to fight for a healthcare system that truly values nurses and our expertise.” 

This piece has been updated to include a comment from a nurse.

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WHO DOESN’T LOVE A POSITIVE STORY—OR TWO?

“Great journalism really does make a difference in this world: it can even save kids.”

That’s what a civil rights lawyer wrote to Julia Lurie, the day after her major investigation into a psychiatric hospital chain that uses foster children as “cash cows” published, letting her know he was using her findings that same day in a hearing to keep a child out of one of the facilities we investigated.

That’s awesome. As is the fact that Julia, who spent a full year reporting this challenging story, promptly heard from a Senate committee that will use her work in their own investigation of Universal Health Services. There’s no doubt her revelations will continue to have a big impact in the months and years to come.

Like another story about Mother Jones’ real-world impact.

This one, a multiyear investigation, published in 2021, exposed conditions in sugar work camps in the Dominican Republic owned by Central Romana—the conglomerate behind brands like C&H and Domino, whose product ends up in our Hershey bars and other sweets. A year ago, the Biden administration banned sugar imports from Central Romana. And just recently, we learned of a previously undisclosed investigation from the Department of Homeland Security, looking into working conditions at Central Romana. How big of a deal is this?

“This could be the first time a corporation would be held criminally liable for forced labor in their own supply chains,” according to a retired special agent we talked to.

Wow.

And it is only because Mother Jones is funded primarily by donations from readers that we can mount ambitious, yearlong—or more—investigations like these two stories that are making waves.

About that: It’s unfathomably hard in the news business right now, and we came up about $28,000 short during our recent fall fundraising campaign. We simply have to make that up soon to avoid falling further behind than can be made up for, or needing to somehow trim $1 million from our budget, like happened last year.

If you can, please support the reporting you get from Mother Jones—that exists to make a difference, not a profit—with a donation of any amount today. We need more donations than normal to come in from this specific blurb to help close our funding gap before it gets any bigger.

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