The union representing more than 4,000 nurses at the University of Michigan has ratified a new labor contract, officials said Thursday.

The news comes about 12 days after the University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council and the university said they had reached a tentative agreement on a three-year contract. It also comes after months of negotiations.

Read moreNurses, UM reach tentative contract agreement

“This ratification is good news for the entire Michigan Medicine community: our nurses, our patients and all of our staff. We are grateful to all who worked tirelessly to bargain a fair agreement,” David Spahlinger, president of the UM Health System and executive vice dean for clinical affairs of the UM Medical School, said in a statement. “Our top priority is to ensure our patients receive the highest quality of care. Our nurses are critical to that goal, and this contract reflects our interest in moving forward together. We believe this agreement will help us retain and recruit excellent nurses.”

Union officials said they are proud of the contract, which they reached with the university on Sept. 28.

“Because we stuck together, we won staffing language with enforceable commitments and procedures," Katie Oppenheim, a nurse and UMPNC chairwoman, said in a statement. "Nurses will have an effective means of ensuring that staffing decisions are always based on patient care.”

The nurses overwhelmingly voted to ratify the tentative contract Oct. 7-10, according to the union. It went into effect immediately.

University officials said the new contract has salary raises of 3 to 4 percent. In the past four years, raises were about one percent.

It also includes: 

  • Increased funding for tuition reimbursement and professional development that will ensure maintenance of nursing Magnet status, the highest honor in nursing granted to just 6 percent of U.S. hospitals.
  • Maintenance of current health insurance and retirement benefits
  • Changes to eliminate payroll system inaccuracies
  • Reductions in mandatory overtime
  • Paid maternal/parental leave program that includes six weeks of paid leave for physiological recovery from birth of a child and six weeks of paid parental leave to employees after a birth, adoption or foster care and guardianship, which matches benefits recently granted to non-union University employees.

“This is a significant milestone, and we look forward to working with our nurses as we continue our efforts to bring the best healthcare possible to our patients and communities across the state,” Spahlinger said.

In September, the nurses' union authorized a three-day strike if it couldn't reach an agreement with the university.

Read more: 4,000 nurses authorize strike at UM hospitals

The union is an affiliate of the Michigan Nurses Association, the state's largest union for registered nurses.

“The new (UM) contract achieved significant improvements for nurses and patients without sacrificing any of the benefits that make Michigan Medicine a great place to work,” John Karebian, the association's executive director, said in a statement. “We are optimistic that this agreement will usher in a new era of collaboration and goodwill between nurses and administrators.”

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez

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