Patient care should never be compromised for the sake of the bottom line. As our patients’ number one advocates, we demanded to go to the bargaining table with UW Medicine this week and called for a furlough plan that would protect our members and their patients.
Our team of registered nurses from UW Montlake and UW Northwest came together to secure protections and securities for nurses after UW announced their intent to furlough nurses. We fought hard in a week-long battle to mitigate the impact of the employer’s plan that offered no guarantee of unemployment or health insurance benefits. Additionally, it did not offer nurses flexibility to choose what was right for themselves and their families.
Our united efforts secured an MOU late Friday evening that provides additional protections to nurses and will decrease impact on those who are slated to take furloughs. We agreed to the following provisions for our nurses:
- Furloughs are scheduled to start June 1, 2020 but can start earlier with mutual consent of affected RN and manager.
- Voluntary furlough can be requested for up to 8 weeks, distributed by seniority.
- Involuntary furlough is a maximum of 3 weeks. Those slated for longer furloughs will be offered work within UW to minimize furlough weeks. (The employer’s original proposal had a number of RNs having to take 5 weeks of furlough!).
- Furloughs can be extended, at employee request, with mutual consent from manager.
- Nurses retain the right to trade furlough weeks with other nurses, with manager approval.
- Classified RNs can utilize 8 hours of eligible paid time off to maintain their healthcare.
- The University will make a good faith effort to provide the Per Diem/Reserve registered nurses at least eight hours/month to work in order to maintain benefits. The employer agrees to notify house wide management of the intent to make a good faith effort to provide the Per Diem registered nurses at least eight hours/month to work to maintain benefits. Per Diem RNs may pick up shifts in part or whole from classified staff in order work 8 hours per month required to maintain Healthcare Benefits. (these added safeguards apply to over 130 Per Diem and Reserve RNs currently receiving benefits through UWMC).
- Voluntary furloughs will be utilized before involuntary furloughs.
- Employees may volunteer for temporary reduction of FTE, by mutual consent. FTEs cannot be dropped more than 50% of current FTE and cannot be less than .5 FTE.
- If the employer needs to call back a nurse from furlough, involuntary furloughs will be called before voluntary.
- Nurses have no obligation to work or be on call while on furlough.
- Nurses will receive 48-hour notice to return to work, but will receive no penalty if personal circumstance prevents their return.
- Good faith efforts will be made to not furlough nurses again until after November 1, 2020. (this is huge in the face of financial uncertainty).
- Vacation, sick leave and holiday compensation will continue to accrue, and probationary periods and seniority will not be adjusted for furlough time off.
We understand that there is still anxiety around furloughs and the impact it has on the lives of everyone involved. The following resources will be able to answer some of your questions and provide you with resources to assist you in the Unemployment process:
UW HR- https://hr.uw.edu/benefits/
Or call at 206 – 543-4444
Prior to applying for Unemployment, we encourage workers to review these pages:
- FAQ page for workers – helpful information
- Application checklist – for regular unemployment benefits – should be applicable to most full time workers
- Application checklist – for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance – workers who have not worked 680 hours or are self-employed
- SAW account set-up video – tutorial to successfully set up a Secure Access Washington Account
- Introduction to unemployment insurance public webinar – Screen by Screen live or taped webinar on successfully applying for Unemployment Insurance benefits
- Strategies that work – for tips and technical support
Please note that the ESD has had many fraudulent cases for unemployment. Applying early will help alleviate delays in your claims. Please see the ESD website for more details.
Q: I want to volunteer for furlough, but I’ve been waiting for this agreement. Should I volunteer? A: Because of our agreement, we feel confident that it is safe for you to volunteer for furloughs if that is the right decision for you and your family. You should email your manager to volunteer before Friday, May 29 and you can volunteer to furlough for up to 8 weeks. Volunteer furlough weeks will be awarded highest seniority first.
Q: Can I volunteer for a reduced FTE? A: Yes, you can volunteer for a reduced FTE however, we recommend for nearly everyone to try to volunteer for full week furlough increments because that will result in the highest payment from unemployment.
Q: I can’t afford a furlough. What should I do? A: Many of us are worried about making ends meet during periods of furlough. First, volunteers may be able to cover the furlough needs of your unit or department. The unemployment weekly payments are at an all time high right now because of the CARES Act.
Q: Will my furlough turn into a permanent layoff? A:We cannot say for sure but your furloughs should not turn into a permanent layoff. If UW wants to decrease our FTEs or lay us off, they still need to provide a 30-day notice and follow our CBA.
Q: How do I protect my insurance benefits during a furlough 4 weeks or longer? A: You will need to use 8 hours of accrued time to maintain your insurance benefits or you should not volunteer for a full month.
Q: Will this impact my retirement? A: No, our continuous service date will not be impacted.
Q: Will I come back to my same position? A: Yes, you are guaranteed the same schedule, shift, FTE, position and pay.
Q: What do I do if my unit’s staffing is unsafe during the furloughs? A: Administration committed to maintain our current staffing practices. We need to take action, fill out Staffing Complaint forms/ADOs, and we reserve the right to file grievances if administration does not meet our current staffing practices.
Q: How do holidays impact my unemployment eligibility? A: Taking a paid holiday could reduce your unemployment payment. You may wish to bank your holiday instead.
Q: How much unemployment can I get? A: We are recommending to not volunteer for furloughs that are less than one week so that you can maximize how much unemployment will pay you. Visit https://esd. wa.gov/unemployment/calculate-your-benefit to estimate your unemployment benefit.
Q: When does my unemployment begin? A: Washington has waived the one-week waiting period (currently having a June 1 deadline under consideration for extension), so benefits should begin as of the date you apply, except that under CARES, benefits are available retroactively back to January 27, 2020. The unemployment office is handling an unprecedented number of unemployment claims, and will issue checks on approved claims as quickly as possible, but it may take longer than usual. If you need assistance in the interim, please see additional resources in the links above.
We thank you for everything that you do and will continue to fight for you!
your WSNA Furlough MOU RN Bargaining Team
Anita Stull, RN, UW Montlake 7N Inpatient Psych
Teresa Wren, BSN, RN, UW Montlake MIC
Chris Jakubowski, BSN, RN, UW Montlake Cardiovascular Procedures Unit
Alicia Mau, RN, UW Montlake Cardiovascular Procedures Unit
Grace Jones, RN, UW Montlake CV ICU
Josef Mansour, RN, UW Northwest Emergency Dept
Carle Coyle, RN, UW Northwest ICU
Additional questions can be addressed by your Nurse Representative:
Ed Zercher, UW Montlake- firstname.lastname@example.org
Brenda Balogh, UW Northwest- email@example.com