As we previ­ously reported, your fellow nurses on the WSNA bargaining team met with Manage­ment on Nov. 8, 2019. We came prepared with a compre­hen­sive and compet­i­tive proposal including fair and equitable wage and premium increases, better nurse staffing, and protec­tion for nurses against violence in the workplace.

Manage­ment came with not a single proposal, which was incred­ibly disap­pointing, consid­ering that they have had months and months to prepare for this day. After we gave them our proposal, they did not have a response for us. Now, Manage­ment is taking a page from a well-worn union-busting playbook and trying to manufac­ture a crisis” to put pressure on nurses. In a recent commu­ni­ca­tion, Manage­ment alerted nurses that the contract expired on Nov. 15, 2019, and that nurses would be operating without a contract until a new agree­ment is reached.” What Manage­ment failed to provide you with is some helpful context.

WSNA offered to extend the contract, as is appro­priate and common under the circum­stances, consid­ering that we have had only one session thus far and consid­ering that Manage­ment refused to make any proposals on the first day. It’s not like Manage­ment did not have any time to prepare for the first day of negoti­a­tions. Manage­ment declined WSNA’s offer to extend the contract. We assume they did so to create an air of uncer­tainty around negoti­a­tions and to try to weaken the solidarity of nurses in the bargaining unit so as to weaken your voice and power at the table.

Manage­ment tried something similar last negoti­a­tions. It did not work then, and it will not work now. So, what does Management’s refusal to extend the contract mean?

First, the Hospital is required to maintain the status quo while the bargaining process continues at this point. This means that the Hospital is not permitted to insti­tute unilat­eral changes to existing terms and condi­tions of employ­ment. The terms and condi­tions of the collec­tive bargaining agree­ment continue, even though it is expired, with a few exceptions.

For example, Article 19 Uninter­rupted Patient Care” has expired. This article limits the bargaining unit from engaging in certain concerted activ­i­ties, such as striking, picketing, work slowdowns, etc., while the contract is in effect. These limita­tions no longer exist, and WSNA is permitted to organize such activ­i­ties should the bargaining unit wish to do so.

Second, Article 18 Manage­ment Rights” has expired. Now that this article has expired, Manage­ment is much more limited in being able to unilat­er­ally control day-to-day opera­tions in the Hospital. If you find that Manage­ment wants to change something related to your working condi­tions, please contact your Nurse Repre­sen­ta­tive. The Hospital cannot change working condi­tions unilat­er­ally. If it does so, it may have committed an Unfair Labor Practice and be subject to prose­cu­tion by the National Labor Relations Board.

Third, how griev­ances under the contract are resolved could change. However, as noted above, your working condi­tions and protec­tions cannot be unilat­er­ally changed by the employer.

Our next session is sched­uled for Dec. 6, 2019. Manage­ment owes it to its nurses to take the time to prepare for negoti­a­tions and present a compre­hen­sive proposal to WSNA just as WSNA did on the first day of negotiations.

In solidarity,
Your fellow nurses on your WSNA negoti­a­tions team