In this update:
- Contract bargaining update
- Nurses’ concerns
- Bringing your own mask to work
- Open officer position
- Online resources
Contract bargaining update
On Thursday, April 2, we had our third contract bargaining session. Both sides agree that now is not the time to be bargaining our contract, when we are all focused on patient care more than ever before, our own health and safety and that of our colleagues, as well as our families and loved ones. We are preparing to meet with Overlake on Thursday, April 9, with the hopes for reaching agreement on issues that address our work safety concerns during this state of emergency. Look for an update April 10.
Your WSNA officers and Nurse Representative continue to be inundated with your questions and concerns. We hear you that you are not getting answers from the command center or employee health, that you are getting mixed messages, and that you are receiving misinformation. When that occurs, contact any WSNA officer first. If they cannot answer your question, they will direct you to Nurse Rep Sydne James. These are common Overlake RN concerns presented to the Nurse Rep.
Do we have the right to be notified if an employee on our unit has tested positive?
Per Overlake’s stated policy, there is a process in place to notify employees of any potential exposures, including coworkers. “Employee Health will contact you either by email or phone if you have any workplace risk of exposure.” WSNA supports the confidentiality of private health information.
I called employee health with signs and symptoms. They told me to go to my provider to be tested, and to stay home pending test results and said I will have to use PTO/EIB. Is this right?
Per Overlake’s policy, staff who have been exposed to COVID-19 at work and are placed on quarantine by employee health will be on paid administrative leave during their quarantine. If you have no known risk of exposure outside of work, WSNA supports that you were exposed at work and this would qualify for paid administrative leave. If you are told to use PTO/EIB and you feel you qualify for paid admin leave, contact our WSNA Nurse Rep.
The petition for hazard pay, how would that work?
Your bargaining team has presented a hazard pay proposal to Overlake as part of our negotiations around COVID-19 related issues. In addition, WSNA developed a petition as part of a union coalition that includes SEIU 1199NW and UFCW 21. This is a statewide petition to garner support from the public, asking for employers and public officials to offer more protections for all hospital staff, as well as hazard pay.
I’m in peri-operative services and am concerned about floating and low census.
During this state of emergency and constantly changing conditions, our collective bargaining remains in effect. Refer to articles 9.7 (low census) and 8.5 (floating) in our CBA.
Can I be required to work overtime?
During this declared state of emergency, the employer is not required to exhaust all methods to fill staffing shortages prior to mandating overtime, as normally required by law. (RCW 49.28.130) Per article 10.4, except for emergency conditions involving patient care and low census conditions, individual scheduled hours of work may be changed only by mutual consent.
How can I get a workplace accommodation?
Overlake has instructed nurses to reach out to employee health, or our assigned HR business partner to apply for a reasonable accommodation, Suzanne Rodriguez or Terry Wilson, with your specific request for accommodation. We have heard that some nurses are asking their manager for an accommodation and the manager has granted that.
I am being told to float to a unit and care for patients I am not trained to care for, with only minimum training and orientation. I’m scared on so many levels.
Per our CBA, this is a violation of article 8.5 Floating. “… When floated, a nurse will take the same type of and ratio of patients that ordinarily is treated on the floated nurse’s unit; however, if such an assignment is not available a nurse may be floated as a staff helper. For purposes of floating, med-surg (El, E3, W4 and S5) is considered one unit and telemetry (E2 and S4) is considered one unit. Any nurse required to float shall receive adequate orientation appropriate for the assignment. A nurse may inform the Charge Nurse of any task or procedure for which the nurse feels inadequately trained.”
You may have to make a decision about accepting an assignment involving abnormally dangerous conditions that pose an imminent risk to your safety and health, or to that of your patient. If you have already accepted the assignment your professional license may be at risk if you fail to continue that assignment, unless you have handed off the assignment and been relieved of responsibility for the patient. If you decide to refuse the assignment, you should remain at the workplace and offer to perform other work that does not pose an imminent risk to your safety and health (e.g., an assignment for which you are provided proper safety equipment and training). A decision to refuse an assignment could result in disciplinary action taken against you by the employer. Under the collective bargaining agreement between the employer and WSNA, there must be“just cause” for any discipline. WSNA would defend you if you are subjected to unjust discipline, but resolution of any such discipline would likely be delayed and the outcome may be uncertain as a result of the current national and state emergency declarations.
I was told to clean my N95 to save for reuse. Is that safe?
The CDC and NIOSH do not recommend cleaning any N95 mask in any manner. Read more.
How do I submit my concerns, questions and suggestions to Overlake administration?
We have heard that nurses are not getting response from the command center. WSNA has previously asked Overlake to create a platform for nurses to share their concerns, questions and ideas. Overlake has created an email address for this purpose: COVID19Log@overlakehospital.org.
Bringing your own mask to work
Overlake’s current FAQ states “At this time we do not encourage people to use their own personal protective equipment (PPE).” The Joint Commission supports allowing staff to bring their own standard face masks or respirators to wear at work when their healthcare organizations cannot adequately provide PPE. This document contains the announcement from the Joint Commission. WSNA supports nurses bringing their own mask to work, when the employer is not providing sufficient PPE to be used as per manufacturer and CDC guidelines.
We understand some managers are telling nurses that the online WSNA staffing complaint/ADO form is not appropriate for lack of proper PPE. This form is appropriate for many things, including unsafe working conditions, lack of appropriate PPE (equipment on the form), missed breaks, inappropriate assignment, and staffing. It is appropriate and helpful to complete both the ADO form and a MIDAS. The ADO can be completed from home, at any time after the fact. There is no retaliation permitted for completing this form, and it could be unlawful for your managers to discourage you from doing so. If you have been told to not submit an ADO for any reason, contact any officer or the WSNA nurse rep for clarification or to report this.
Open officer postion #
We currently have one open officer position at Overlake, WSNA co-chair. If you are interested in running for this position, email email@example.com by April 9.
From WSNA #
- Nurses facing abnormally dangerous patient care assignments
- Visit https://www.wsna.org/union/overlake-hospital-medical-center to find our CBA and for current info for Overlake RNs and recent updates.
- Visit wsna.org/ado to document issues in your workplace.
Other helpful resources #
- CDC testing guidelines
- CDC criteria for return to work for healthcare personnel with confirmed or suspected COVID
- CDC general resources for healthcare professionals
- WA State Hospital Association summary on Contingency and Crisis Capacity for facemasks (PDF)
- CDC strategies for optimizing the supply of facemasks
- Cloth masks do not protect nurses
- CDC healthcare personnel with potential exposure guidance
- WA State Coronavirus Response
- WA State Department of Health – 2019 Novel Coronavirus Outbreak
- WA State Employment Security Department – For workers affected by COVID-19
- Financial Resources for WA residents impacted by COVID-19
Your WSNA officers and contract bargaining team
Chris Birchem, Chair; Jennifer Carney, Secretary; Brenda Elliott, Treasurer; Gemma Aranda, Grievance Officer; Kathryn Geren, Grievance Officer; Brook Dodd, Grievance Officer; Andrew Meeks, Membership Officer; Janet Moore-Lane, IPS; Pauline Whitney-Hille, IPS; Jesse Huang-Refuerzo, West 4; Sharon Sim, South 4; Cherise Horn, South 4; Magdalyn Chu, ED
Contact any WSNA officer or WSNA Nurse Representative Sydne James with any questions or concerns, firstname.lastname@example.org.