“Why is management so out of touch with the frontline nurse’s interests?” #
St. Joseph’s management asked a very good question in its June 28 “SJMC RN Update.” Too bad they didn’t really answer the question. Management is out of touch because they have failed to take our staffing concerns seriously. They are out of touch because they failed to address those concerns in our contract.
We are completely committed to reaching a contract agreement that addresses those serious staffing concerns. When we voted down previous contract agreements, we showed management that we have power and we’re ready to use it to get something better. That’s what we’re fighting for.
We’re not considering a strike lightly. It’s not our first option. But we’ll strike if we have to. Here’s what you can do to help your bargaining team get a meaningful, respectful contract:
- Complete our Patient Safety Survey. We need the strongest possible data and messages to clearly articulate what’s at stake for patient safety and why nurses are preparing to take the bold action of a strike. Add your voice!
- Be prepared if we have to strike.
- Sign the petition saying you’ll strike if you have to.
WSNA nurse members assigned to every unit at the hospital have been trained as a Rapid Response Organizers and have the strike commitment petition ready for you to sign. You can also contact your WSNA Nurse Representative using the contact information listed at the bottom of this message.
- Sign up for a strike committee.
Print the form, fill it out, take a photo of it and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Prepare financially.
- Sign the petition saying you’ll strike if you have to.
Here are our answers to SJMC’s questions.
1. What is SJMC doing about staffing challenges at our hospital?
Not enough. Management acknowledges that “high patient volumes” have become the “new normal.” They acknowledge that “Our nurses have demonstrated tremendous pride and reverence in delivering high-quality care to patients over these months under difficult circumstances.” Now they have to do something about it.
We know that charge nurses are regularly pulled to take patient loads; we know that we are taking more patients to cover surges. This is not OK. We are demanding that St. Joseph commit to maintain staffing levels on each unit that provide for safe patient care and for the health and safety of nurses, and we demand substantive staffing reforms written into our contract. St. Joseph’s management has had ample opportunity to address staffing over the past 10 months of bargaining and has failed to do so.
Instead of spending money to hire replacement workers in the event of a strike, St. Joseph’s should be spending money to address the very real staffing concerns of us nurses.
2. How did we get into our present situation?
Management acknowledges that they “did not accurately predict the patient volume and were not adequately prepared with staffing support.” But what about their decision to eliminate health unit coordinators and reduce CNA and care assistant positions? They say patient volumes started going up in winter 2017 – a year and a half ago! And still, we are taking on too much to feel confident we’re meeting all of our patients needs on every shift. This has to stop. We need substantive staffing reforms in our contract.
3. Why is management so out of touch with the frontline nurse’s interests?
Because they’re not listening to us. Only now, with the threat of a strike looming, are they paying attention to our very real concerns.
4. Is there a chance the parties will go back to the table before the strike?
Yes. We had hoped to go back to the bargaining table this week and were ready to do so. Unfortunately, due to management and mediator scheduling conflicts, our next mediated bargaining date is July 12.
We will be adding members to our WSNA bargaining team to fill seats that are empty due to members leaving St. Joseph’s and to bring the voices of frontline nurses across the hospital to the table. Tomorrow, our team is prepping to go back to the table and fight for what nurses need.
We hope St. Joe’s management will come back to the table with greater respect for the professionalism, hard work, sacrifice and loyalty we demonstrate every day.
5. Is it ok to ask my manager questions about the management proposals?
They actually answered this one pretty well: “Management is prohibited from asking you directly about union activities or plans. There are strict laws governing management behaviors during open contract negotiations. For example, management may not make promises or suggest new proposals to employees as such activity constitutes direct dealing.”
You can initiate a conversation with your managers if you wish to do so. Management cannot. If they do, it constitutes an Unfair Labor Practice. If a manager initiates a conversation about contract negotiation or seeks your input on issues at the table, we need to hear from you. If you have been threatened or retaliated against for union activities, including filing a grievance or submitting a Staffing Complaint/ADO form, we need to hear from you. Fill out the Unfair Labor Practice Report Form.
We recommend that you direct your questions to a bargaining team member or a Rapid Response Organizer to get the most accurate answers.
6. Doesn’t SJMC care about nurses? We have high turnover and can’t retain people because of working conditions.
They say SJMC “deeply cares.” We say “show it” by coming to the bargaining table prepared to address our serious staffing concerns.
They say, “RN turnover is not going up.” We say, RN turnover at SJMC is unacceptably high. Take a look at the data in our blog post.
7. A union representative came to my unit today and was taking names of people who will strike and who will not strike. Am I required to give them information?
We are actively assessing our readiness to strike by asking nurses to sign a form saying they’ll strike if they have to. This is a protected union activity, and St. Joseph’s management knows it. We recognize that the decision to go out on strike is a personal one. By honestly answering questions about your personal readiness, you are helping us know where we are as a group.
8. I feel like I am being harassed about union matters. What can I do?
There is a lot of conversation happening right now given where we are with bargaining and strike preparation. But we don’t want anyone to feel “harassed.” Talk to us.
9. Does management have a plan to staff and deliver care during a strike? What will happen to my patients?
Make no mistake about it — if we go on strike it will be FOR our patients. Our staffing and patient safety concerns are real. We need St. Joseph’s management to address them, for the sake of our patients.
If a strike is called, we will give St. Joseph’s the required 10-day notice so that administration can plan for patient care. In addition, WSNA’s strike preparation includes establishing an RN Emergency Standby Team Committee that would solicit volunteers to work in the case of an emergency. You can sign up for this and other strike committees by submitting this form.
The ANA Nursing Code of Ethics states that “the nurse, through individual and collective effort, establishes, maintains, and improves the ethical environment of the work setting and conditions of employment that are conducive to safe, quality health care.” By demanding that St. Joseph Medical Center address nursing staffing and patient safety issues, we are doing nothing less than making an ethical stand on behalf of the patients we serve.
We need a contract that addresses our staffing problems and demonstrates respect for our professionalism and dedication. We don’t want to go on strike, but we will strike if we have to.
Questions? Contact WSNA Nurse Representative Hanna Welander at email@example.com or by calling 206 – 575-7979, ext. 3035.