We had our 10th negoti­ating session on Tuesday, Oct. 30. During prior sessions, we reached tenta­tive agree­ments with Manage­ment on enhanced sick leave use, charge nurse premium increases, and educa­tion premiums. To be clear — it was WSNA who brought those proposals to the table. The support of the bargaining unit has helped us make progress on these issues. Your continued support is essen­tial and appre­ci­ated. But there is much more work to be done.

Here is where we stand on some of the major issues:

STAFFING:
WSNA has heard your concerns about safe staffing and has made a substan­tive proposal to address these concerns that would:

  1. Require SRH to provide staffing levels that enable nurses to take meal and rest breaks while maintaining quality patient care;
  2. Prohibit SRH from requiring nurses to provide care to more patients than antic­i­pated by the agreed staffing matrix;
  3. Require SRH to maintain staffing levels that enable nurses to meet their respon­si­bil­i­ties under the Nurse Practice Act.

To date, Manage­ment has rejected each and every one of these proposals and has offered no substan­tive contrac­tual proposal that would address these staffing concerns. Manage­ment merely tells us some of the actions it has taken indepen­dently, such as hiring traveler nurses into the float pool. These actions are not suffi­cient to address the issues that we have raised. More impor­tantly, we have told Manage­ment that nurses want contrac­tual language regarding staffing and not just promises of what it intends to do.

At our most recent session, we told Manage­ment that we believe that patient care would be enhanced by insti­tuting and reinforcing the roles of:

* Resource Nurses

* ED Triage Nurses

* IV Therapy Nurse

LAYOFF:

Manage­ment is still insisting on reducing nurses’ options and protec­tions in the event of a layoff. Under this proposal, Manage­ment would have the ability to change nurses’ FTEs, shifts and hours without following the current layoff proce­dures which have been in the contract for years. Management’s dangerous proposal would dilute the power of seniority and give us far fewer options than we currently have.

WAGES:

The wages for RNs at SRH have lagged behind those of nurses working at nearby WSNA Hospi­tals for some time now. WSNA has been proposing that SRH increase wages since day one of bargaining to correct the compet­i­tive wage disad­van­tage that Manage­ment has insisted upon in past negotiations.

Meanwhile, Manage­ment is still insisting on tying wage increases to quality metrics goals. If the Hospital doesn’t meet these goals, nurses will not get their full poten­tial wage increases. We can only assume that Manage­ment believes that SRH nurses have all the tools and staffing support for the Hospital to meet these goals. Meanwhile, nurses tell us about staffing problems at SRH; and Manage­ment refuses to agree to substan­tive, meaningful approaches to staffing problems. Manage­ment fails to recog­nize that nurses are profes­sion­ally driven and, that given the proper tools and support, provide exemplary care. Other area WSNA hospi­tals under­stand this and do not hold their nurses’ compen­sa­tion hostage as part of a misguided pay practice. They guarantee full wage increases for the life of their contracts all the while facing similar Medicare and Medicaid reimburse­ment constraints as SRH. We fear that Management’s dangerous new approach to compen­sa­tion will give SRH nurses yet another reason to look elsewhere for employment.

Moreover, Manage­ment has recently insisted on the ability to try to reduce your wages during the life of the contract. That’s right. In addition to wanting the ability to try to reduce your medical and retire­ment benefits during the life of the contract, Manage­ment now wants a crack at your wages.

Finally, Manage­ment has commu­ni­cated to you that it wants to complete contract negoti­a­tions soon so that you can get raises. What Manage­ment chose not to tell you is that they have proposed that any wage increase will not be effec­tive until the contract has been ratified. Since day one of bargaining, WSNA has proposed that wage increases will be effec­tive from the expira­tion date of the current contract. Management’s proposal is nothing but a strong-arm tactic to pressure nurses to accept a sub-standard contract. WSNA has been ready and willing to bargain all issues throughout negoti­a­tions, including medical and retire­ment benefits. Meanwhile, Manage­ment tells us that it needs more time to figure out what it wants to do with medical and retire­ment benefits. Nurses’ timely wage increases should not be held hostage because of Management’s lack of prepa­ra­tion for these negotiations.

NEXT STEPS:

Our next sessions are sched­uled for November 14 and 26.

Thanks to All of you who attended the Board Meeting on October 26. Nurses deliv­ered a powerful message to members of the Board.

Stay tuned

for more infor­ma­tion on how you can make your voice heard in these negotiations!

In Solidarity,

Your WSNA Negoti­a­tion Team: Peter Moore (MPC), Alyssa Stirpe (Stanwood), Randi Dykstra (Case Manage­ment), Rachel Yates (MPC), Liz Rainaud (FBC), Alice Riddle (IV Therapy) and Jessica Knutzen (Float Pool)

Contact WSNA Nurse Repre­sen­ta­tive Sue O’Don­nell at sodonnell@wsna.org for any questions.