COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — After nearly three months of negotiating for better working conditions, the Ohio Nurses Association has reached a tentative agreement with Ohio State Wexner Medical Center.

The Ohio Nurses Association, a union that represents the Ohio State University Nurses Organization, said it agreed to a tentative three-year contract proposal with the Wexner Medical Center Friday to guarantee a series of salary increases for nurses at the university.

The agreement proposed the following changes, most of which will be in effect by July 1:

  • 7% wage increases, plus additional market adjustments, for most nurses in the first year of their contract
  • 3% wage increases for nurses in the second and third year of their contract
  • Wage increases over the course of three years for the highest-paid nurses — after about a decade without an increase
  • Up to a 22% increase in incentive pay for workers who volunteer for extra shifts

“Our members actively demonstrated the need for real recruitment and retention efforts from the medical center, including competitive pay,” OSUNO President Rick Lucas said in a news release. “In an era where nurses are leaving the bedside in droves, it is more important than ever OSU listen to the needs of nurses and pay them what they’re worth so together we can break the cycle of short nurse staffing, lengthy ER wait times and potentially unsafe patient care.”

The agreement follows a months-long nursing shortage at the Wexner Medical Center, where more than 750 nursing positions are vacant, according to the ONA. The hospital has lost two nurses for every one new hire since January 2021.

On Thursday, one day before the tentative agreement was reached, the ONA picketed outside the Wexner Medical Center to protest unfair wages, staff shortages and mental health challenges facing nurses — all exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m proud of our members and their push that ultimately made OSU do the right thing,” Lucas said. “There is power when nurses come together, and our union is proof.”

The ONA is expected to vote on the tentative agreement on Thursday, May 26, and Friday, May 27, the union said.