Manage­ment recently sent out a Bargaining Update” and shared its perspec­tive on the current negoti­a­tions. We’d like to give you our perspec­tive and set the record straight.

On April 24, 2019, we had our 19th bargaining session, again with the assis­tance of a mediator. This process has taken a long time – too long. For much of these negoti­a­tions, Manage­ment has demanded that we settle for a contract which would have subjected our fellow nurses to much uncer­tainty and the possi­bility of reduced wages and benefits. Only recently, have they begun to move away from these unaccept­able positions. Manage­ment told us at the start of negoti­a­tions that they were still tying to figure out what they wanted to do about benefit levels and demanded that we agree to language that could have resulted in the reduc­tion of wages and medical and retire­ment benefits during the life of the contract.

If this story sounds familiar, it is. During our last negoti­a­tions over two years ago, Manage­ment told us the same story — that they were not prepared to bargain over benefit levels. And when the current negoti­a­tions began, Manage­ment STILL was not ready.

Moreover, through much of these negoti­a­tions, Manage­ment has taken very hard lines on many issues that are of great impor­tance to the bargaining unit and provided us with lip service rather than meaningful proposals. Several of their proposals stuck out like sore thumbs when compared to the contracts of other WSNA-repre­sented facil­i­ties. Only recently, have they started to come around. It has taken the hard work of your fellow nurses on your WSNA bargaining team along with the incred­ible support of the bargaining unit over the past year to move Manage­ment off their objec­tion­able positions. But there is work still to be done.
So where are we now? We have two more media­tion sessions sched­uled, and here is where we stand on some of the bigger issues.

Wages

WSNA came into negoti­a­tions proposing guaran­teed wage increases for each year of the contract, as is common with other WSNA nursing contracts. In contrast, Manage­ment decided to rock the boat by proposing to tie wages to perfor­mance and by proposing possible wage reduc­tions during the life of the contract. It was only after MONTHS AND MONTHS of bargaining that Manage­ment proposed to withdraw their troubling wage proposals but ONLY IF we ceded to their demands on a dozen other issues.
We are closer on wages now, but what Manage­ment conve­niently neglected to mention in its update is that they are still insisting that any wage increase will be effec­tive only after the contract has been ratified. Under Management’s proposal, there would be no wage increase for the year that we have been bargaining the contract. This is unaccept­able, given that Manage­ment came to the table unpre­pared and insisted for a long time on proposals that were out of the norm for nursing contracts. We continue to propose wage increases for the lost” year.

Benefits

It’s a similar story with benefits. For months and months, Manage­ment insisted on the to ability to try to reduce medical and retire­ment benefits during the life of the contract. It was only recently that they have moved away from this position.

Staffing

Since day one of bargaining, your WSNA team has been pushing hard on the issue of staffing. We have proposed language that would give nurses greater voice in staffing decisions through the staffing committee and the staffing complaint process. We have proposed language that would require Manage­ment to provide staffing levels that would ensure the safety of patients and the nurses, to refrain from assigning more patients than allowed by the staffing matrix, and to allow nurses the ability to take meal/​rest breaks and much-needed vacations. For months and months, Manage­ment rejected these proposals and insisted that the only contract language that it would consider was to provide WSNA with infor­ma­tion regarding staffing – infor­ma­tion to which WSNA was already legally entitled! WSNA rejected this absurd and insulting proposal and continued to press for real staffing language. It was only after nearly a year of bargaining that Manage­ment began to put substan­tive staffing language on the table. While we have made progress in recent bargaining sessions on staffing, we are not done yet.

We hope that you now have a better under­standing of why these negoti­a­tions have taken so long. We have recently begun to make much progress, and we expect to continue to making progress. If we do not, we will be reaching out to the bargaining regarding next steps to ensure that we get the contract that we deserve.

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)

Questions? Contact WSNA Nurse Repre­sen­ta­tive Sue Dunlap at sdunlalp@wsna.org.