By Sam Richards

CONCORD -- Registered nurses at John Muir Medical Center, Concord have reached a tentative three-year contract nurses say will bring patient care improvements as well as secure nurses' health coverage.

The settlement, reached Wednesday, covers more than 700 registered nurses who belong to the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United. A ratification vote is set for Oct. 1.

A key win, according to a statement Friday from the CNA, is preserving a provision that waives the employee and dependent contributions to health care premiums for registered nurses who are the primary wage earners in their families. Another is preservation of collective bargaining rights for all direct care RNs, including those who make clinical assignments.

All registered nurses will earn a 7 percent across-the-board pay increase over three years.

Donna Brackley, senior vice president and chief nursing office at John Muir Medical Center, Concord, said in a separate statement Friday that "We are pleased to have reached a tentative agreement that union leaders will recommend for ratification at their upcoming meetings."

John Muir Spokesman Ben Drew said further comment will likely made after the Oct. 1 ratification vote.

Registered nurses working at John Muir's Walnut Creek hospital are not represented by unions, Drew said.