July 28 First News: Nurses and Techs Reject Contract Offer From Santa Fe's Hospital (Listen)

Jul 28, 2014

The union representing nurses and medical technicians at Santa Fe’s hospital on Sunday overwhelmingly rejected a new contract offer. The labor contract covering about 400 nurses and 100 techs at Christus-St. Vincent Regional Medical Center expires Thursday and it’s not clear what the next step is. The president of New Mexico District 11-99 of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care employees, Fonda Osborn, tells the Journal North the union could call a strike. However, Osborn says she’s hopeful to return to the bargaining table. She says 94-percent of the nurses and 82-percent of the medical technicians voted to reject the hospital’s latest offer. The union says staffing levels is the major issue of contention between the two sides.

Santa Fe police say overtime costs fell significantly when officers worked five days a week, a schedule that has since been reversed by the current police chief. The New Mexican reports that records show overtime payments dropped by 15 percent. According to records, the department shelled out one-million dollars in overtime in 2010. That figure decreased to 842-thousand in 2011, after former Chief Ray Rael changed officers' schedules from five to four-day work weeks. The costs have remained steady since. Current Police Chief Eric Garcia says the shift change wasn't the only factor. Garcia says a program that increased how much time detectives spent on burglary investigations played more of a role in the drop. The four-day change is being implemented gradually with various units.

Readers of the premier worldwide luxury travel magazine, Condé Nast Traveler, have selected Santa Fe tops among “The10 Best Small Cities in America.” We asked Tourism Santa Fe Executive Director Randy Randall his thoughts on the honor: *****072814-Randall-1 :21***** Randall says Tourism Santa Fe plans a marketing effort to capitalize on the award.

State officials say several changes will be made to New Mexico's teacher evaluation system, which has hit several snags including faulty data. The Albuquerque Journal reports that Education Secretary Hanna Skandera said Friday the changes will address the reporting of incorrect data and grant more flexibility to schools. Skandera says the changes were presented Thursday to the New Mexico School Superintendents' Association. The changes include making sure the state Public Education Department and districts schedule time to share accurate data. Also, school districts can decide if teachers who receive a "minimally effective" rating should be put on a performance growth plan that was previously mandatory. The evaluations have faced scrutiny since they were first released in May, with many teachers reporting errors in their scores.

Northern New Mexico College's plan to construct its first on-campus dorms has hit a wall. The Albuquerque Journal reported Friday that Governor Susana Martinez and the state Board of Finance are declining to act on the college's proposal for financing the buildings because of the school's finances. The school had requested approval for revenue bonds that would have generated as much as 13-million dollars for the project. Martinez said at a board meeting earlier this month that officials need more confidence in the school's stability before signing off on the project. The college last spring cut several faculty positions, child care and three degree programs to close a 250-thousand dollar budget gap. The school had planned to break ground on the dorm project this fall at its Espanola campus

Santa Fe Weather: Partly sunny today with a high near 81 and a 40-percent chance for showers and thunderstorms. Tonight: Mostly cloudy with a low near 60 and a 40-percent chance for showers and thunderstorms. Tomorrow: Mostly cloudy with a high of 78 and a 50-percent chance for showers and thunderstorms.