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Washington State Nurses Association Contract Negotiation Updates

The Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA) represents registered nurses at the University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC). The current collective bargaining agreement between UW and WSNA expires on June 30, 2015. The parties began negotiations for a successor agreement on May 12, 2015.

Andrew Berg
Assistant Director, UW Labor Relations (Lead Negotiator)
Carla Brannen
Nurse Manager, Operating Room, UWMC
Becky Hammontree
HR Consultant, UWMC
Leslie Hampton
Associate Director, Professional Development, PFCC, Patient Care Services, UWMC
A.J. Hartman
Communications Specialist, UW Labor Relations
Anthea Kuah
Senior Compensation and Labor Relations Analyst, HR Compensation
Dorthea McMahon
Interim Associate Director, PCS Central Resources and Staffing, UWMC
Grace Parker
Chief Nursing Officer and Senior Associate Administrator, UWMC
Christine Sampson
Assistant Administrator, Women and Infant Services, Patient Care Services, UWMC
Patty Van Velsir
HR Consultant, UWMC

Negotiations Recap for July 8, 2015

This recap details the ninth session for the renewal of the collective bargaining agreement between the UW and WSNA, which expired as of July 1, 2015.

Status of Negotiations

The parties discussed the status of negotiations and where differences remain. UW expressed interest in engaging in further discussion, but reinforced that it is currently maintaining its last, best, and final proposal delivered at the previous session.

UW reminded WSNA that the University has made substantial movement and withdrawn several proposals at the request of the union, and that its comprehensive proposal provides several meaningful gains for UWMC nurses without takeaways.

Mandatory Union Membership Discussion

WSNA reported that 86 percent of nurses it surveyed support its proposal to make union membership and payment of dues mandatory for UWMC nurses, and suggested that UW’s opposition to this proposal is anti-union.

UW pointed out that roughly less than one-third of UWMC nurses responded to WSNA’s survey, meaning the support cited by the union does not represent a majority. UW team members reported receiving unsolicited feedback from several UWMC nurses emphasizing their opposition to mandatory union membership and dues.

UW acknowledged that WSNA’s latest proposal would only apply to nurses hired prospectively, but expressed that this notion is not universally supported by nurses and is somewhat incompatible with the culture of professionalism and autonomy that the union touts as a priority and a benefit for UWMC nurses.

Next Steps

The parties will meet again to continue negotiations at a later date that is still being determined. Since the contract has expired, the previous contract will remain in effect until the parties negotiate a successor agreement. UW has stated that wage increases will not be applied retroactively.


Negotiations Recap for June 30, 2015

This recap details the eighth session for the renewal of the collective bargaining agreement between the UW and WSNA, which expired on July 1, 2015.

Package Proposals

Throughout the day, the parties exchanged package proposals that would need to be accepted in their entirety.

UW Last, Best, and Final Proposal

At the end of the day, UW submitted a “last, best, and final” package proposal that included the following provisions:

Association Membership – UW declined WSNA’s proposal to require all UWMC nurses to join the union as dues-paying members, in favor of maintaining current contract language.

Rest Between Shifts – UW would accept WSNA’s proposal to maintain a required break of 10.5 hours between 12-hour shifts and 12 hours between all other scheduled shifts.

On-Call – UW would withdraw its proposal on mandatory call and maintain current contract language regarding call.

Wage Rates – In addition to adding a new step 30 to the top of the pay range, UW proposed an across-the-board increase of 3 percent in 2015 and 2 percent in 2016.

Staffing – UW would accept WSNA’s language regarding staffing to facilitate rest breaks, meal breaks, and ultimately nurse safety. UW proposed to maintain the language memorializing that staffing plans are not subject to the grievance procedure.

WSNA Package Proposal

WSNA put forth a responsive package proposal in which all provisions would need to be accepted in their entirety. Provisions included:

Association Membership – WSNA proposed that all current dues-paying members would be required to remain dues-paying members and all newly hired nurses would be permanently required to be dues-paying members.

On-Call – WSNA proposed to limit on-call to the Operating Room, all PACUs, Interventional Radiology, and the Cath Lab, and to prevent new hires from accepting mandatory call as a condition of hire.

Wage Rates – WSNA proposed a 3 percent across-the-board increase in 2015 and a 4 percent across-the-board increase in 2016, as well as the new top Step 30.

Staffing – WSNA proposed to eliminate the contract language that makes staffing plans not subject to the grievance procedure.

Next Steps

The parties agreed to meet again to continue negotiations on July 8. Since the contract has expired, the previous contract will remain in effect until the parties negotiate a successor agreement.


Negotiations Recap for June 15, 2015

This recap details the seventh session for the renewal of the collective bargaining agreement between the UW and WSNA.

UW Package Proposal

UW put forth a package proposal in which all provisions would need to be accepted in their entirety. Provisions included:

Association Membership – UW declined WSNA's proposal to require all UWMC nurses to join the union as dues-paying members, in favor of maintaining current contract language.

Probationary Period – UW would accept WSNA’s proposal for nurses to receive a documented evaluation halfway through the probationary period.

Rest Between Shifts — UW maintained its proposal to standardize the rest between shifts requirement, such that regardless of shift length, nurses not receiving unbroken rest of 10 and one-half hours before the start of their next regularly scheduled shift would trigger the rest between shift premium.

Tuition Exemption — UW proposed that the parties maintain current contract language.

Flexible Staffing – UW would accept WSNA’s adjustments to its proposal to establish a system of voluntary leave in cases where UWMC’s staffing exceeds clinical needs, whereby the unit would seek volunteers to use leave without pay or accrued leave, and nurses on regularly scheduled shifts would not be mandated to use either.

Mandatory On-call – Rather than mandatory call, UW proposed a one-year trial for voluntary call in select units, including Labor and Delivery and Intensive Care. If voluntary call failed to meet 75 percent of on-call needs during the trial, a mandatory call system would go into effect on these units.

General Wage Increases – UW increased its last wage proposal to a 2 percent general wage increase effective July 1, 2015, and a 2 percent general wage increase effective July 1, 2016. UW declined WSNA's proposal to add new step 30 to the top of the pay range.

Shift Premium – UW proposed that the parties maintain current contract language.

Standby Premium – The parties would maintain current contract language regarding standby premium, except for the parties’ existing agreement to increase the guaranteed minimum work period to three hours at a time and one-half rate to nurses when called in from standby.

Parking – WSNA would withdraw its proposal for UW to provide nurses with free parking in remote parking lots with free shuttle service to UWMC.

New Nurse Float Premium — UW proposed that newly hired nurses become eligible for float premium for time spent working independently clinically during their first year, and that they be fully eligible for float premium after their first year.

Nursing Masters Degrees – UW would accept WSNA’s proposal to memorialize that nurses receive a one-step pay increase for attaining a Masters in Nursing or Masters of Science in Nursing degree.

Staffing — UW maintained its proposed language committing UWMC to make a good faith effort to meet several staffing goals, such as including bargaining unit members on the staffing committee, providing the union with information from the staffing committee, and enabling nurses to receive rest and meal breaks and use accrued leave.

Leave Accruals – WSNA would withdraw its proposal for nurse vacation and sick leave accrual to be determined by actual hours worked rather than a nurse's scheduled FTE (full-time equivalent).

Vacation Leave – UW proposed that the parties maintain current contract language.

Leave Due to Child Care Emergencies – UW would accept WSNA’s proposal for the parties to maintain current contract language.

Successorship – WSNA would withdraw its proposed language detailing the role and rights of the union in the event that UW was to subcontract some of its operations to another party.

WSNA Package Proposal

WSNA put forth a package proposal in which all provisions would need to be accepted in their entirety. Provisions included:

Association Membership – WSNA maintained its proposal to require all UWMC nurses to join the union as dues-paying members.

Rosters – WSNA proposed that the parties wait until UW completes the transition to its new HR/payroll system to discuss the addition of employee shift, home phone, cell phone, and unit to the list of employee data that UW reports to the union on a monthly basis.

Union Orientation – WSNA maintained its last position on union orientation, whereby nurses who are transferred into bargaining unit positions would be instructed to attend the union’s portion of orientation if they had not already attended it, and that in difficult scheduling situations the parties could agree to a comparable alternate WSNA orientation. UW would provide to the union the names and contact information for such nurses within seven days of their entering the bargaining unit.

Probationary Period – WSNA maintained its proposal for nurses to receive a documented evaluation halfway through the probationary period.

Rest Between Shifts – WSNA maintained its proposal for the parties to maintain current contract language.

Rest Breaks – WSNA maintained its proposal to incorporate the parties’ existing memorandum of agreement and grievance settlement regarding rest breaks into the body of the contract.

Tuition Exemption — WSNA would agree with UW’s proposal to maintain current contract language.

Flexible Staffing – WSNA would accept UW’s most recent proposal.

Mandatory On-call – WSNA maintained its rejection of UW’s proposal for scheduled mandatory call in certain areas.

General Wage Increases — WSNA proposed a 5 percent general wage increase effective July 1, 2015, and a 4 percent general wage increase effective July 1, 2016.

New Pay Steps — WSNA maintained its proposal to add a new step 30, to provide for a 3 percent increase from step 29.

Shift Premium – WSNA would withdraw its proposal to increase the second (evening) shift premium from $2.50 to $2.75 per hour, and the third (night) shift differential from $4.25 to $4.50 per hour.

Standby Premium – WSNA would withdraw its proposal for standby premium to be paid atop the premium rate already awarded (time and one-half) when nurses are called in from standby status.

New Nurse Float Premium — WSNA proposed that newly hired nurses become eligible for float premium for time spent working independently clinically during their first six months, following which they would be fully eligible for float premium. Time spent working “independently clinically” would be defined as being counted for the staffing matrix. WSNA also proposed that this provision not apply to nurses hired before the 2015-2017 contract goes into effect.

Nursing Masters Degrees – UW would accept WSNA’s proposal to memorialize that nurses receive a one-step pay increase for attaining a Masters in Nursing or Masters of Science in Nursing degree.

ECLS Nurse Premium – WSNA would accept UW’s proposal for nurses to receive up to $6.50 per hour for time designated as Extra-Corporeal Life Support ("ECLS") nurses ($2.50 for charge pay with $4 for ECLS).

Vascular Access Team Premium – WSNA would accept UW’s proposal for nurses to receive $4 per hour for time designated as Vascular Access Team nurses.

Parking – WSNA would withdraw its proposal for UW to provide nurses with free parking in remote parking lots with free shuttle service to UWMC.

Staffing – WSNA maintained its proposed revisions to UW’s staffing proposal, including allowing for the content of staffing plans to be subject to the grievance procedure.

Leave Accruals – WSNA would withdraw its proposal for nurse vacation and sick leave accrual to be determined by actual hours worked rather than a nurse's scheduled FTE.

Faith/Conscience Day — WSNA would accept UW’s proposal to memorialize WAC 82-56, whereby leave without pay would be granted for up to two workdays per calendar year for reason of faith or conscience. Such requests could only be denied if the employee's absence would create undue hardship (per WAC 82-56) or if the employee is necessary to maintain public safety.

Granting Vacation Leave – WSNA would withdraw its proposal for UW to grant vacation requests totaling at least 90 percent of the aggregate accrued annual leave of the bargaining unit for that calendar year.

Vacation Leave Payout – WSNA proposed that UW provide a monthly employee leave record to all nurses. Failure to do so would result in each affected nurse receiving a payout for all accrued vacation hours in excess of 240.

Leave Due to Child Care Emergencies – WSNA proposed that the parties maintain current contract language.

Layoff Clusters – WSNA proposed that the parties make any necessary updates to the appendix delineating the clinical clusters pertaining to layoff.

Successorship – WSNA would withdraw its proposed language detailing the role and rights of the union in the event that UW was to subcontract some of its operations to another party.

UW Package Counter-proposal

In response to WSNA’s package proposal, UW put forth another package proposal in which all provisions would need to be accepted in their entirety. Provisions included:

Association Membership – UW declined WSNA's proposal to require all UWMC nurses to join the union as dues-paying members, in favor of maintaining current contract language.

Rest Between Shifts — UW proposed that current contract language apply in the case of regularly scheduled shifts. For instances of voluntary overtime, nurses not receiving unbroken rest of 10 and one-half hours before the start of their next regularly scheduled shift would trigger the rest between shift premium, regardless of shift length.

Mandatory On-call – UW narrowed its previously proposed one-year voluntary call trial to only apply to Labor and Delivery. If voluntary call failed to meet 75 percent of on-call needs during the trial, a mandatory call system would go into effect on this unit. Elsewhere UWMC would continue to hire new nurses with mandatory standby as a condition of hire in limited, necessary circumstances.

General Wage Increases – UW increased its last wage proposal to a 2.25 percent general wage increase effective July 1, 2015, and a 2 percent general wage increase effective July 1, 2016. UW explained that 2.25 percent matches the highest 2015 across-the-board increase that has been agreed to by Seattle-area nursing unions so far.

New Pay Steps – UW declined WSNA's proposal to add a new step 30 to the top of the pay range.

New Nurse Float Premium — UW would accept WSNA’s most recent proposal provided that newly hired nurses become eligible for float premium for time spent working independently clinically during their first nine months (rather than WSNA’s proposed six months), following which they would be fully eligible for float premium.

Staffing — UW maintained its proposed language committing UWMC to make a good faith effort to meet several staffing goals, such as including bargaining unit members on the staffing committee, providing the union with information from the staffing committee, and enabling nurses to receive rest and meal breaks and use accrued leave.

Vacation Leave Payout – To address WSNA’s proposal concerning payout of accrued vacation leave exceeding the 240 hour limit, UW proposed that the union and management meet to develop notice and/or training regarding vacation accrual totals and rates under the current system and in Workday (UW’s upcoming HR/Payroll system).

Layoff Clusters – UW proposed updates to the appendix delineating the clinical clusters pertaining to layoff.

Next Steps

The next UW-WSNA bargaining session is scheduled for June 30.