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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 28, 2015

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

Status of Negotiations

WSNA solicited additional proposals from the UW management team. UW reinforced that it has delivered a last, best, and final proposal, which provides significant gains for UWMC nurses. UW pointed out that WSNA had expressed the potential for further flexibility in its positions, and encouraged the union to share what that might entail.

Mandatory Union Membership Discussion

WSNA presented a signed petition, conveying it as a demonstration of support for the union’s proposal to require all newly-hired UWMC nurses to pay union dues without the possibility of opting out. WSNA presented this as a major outstanding issue.

UW expressed its support for each nurses’ ability to choose whether or not they want to pay union dues, noting that the unique working conditions and professional autonomy at UWMC play an important role in nurse satisfaction. Furthermore, UW contended that the existing system has been highly successful and it does not believe that major changes are needed or warranted at this time.

Next Steps

The parties will meet again to continue negotiations at a later date that is still being determined. The parties agreed to continue negotiations in the presence of a mediator from the State Public Employment Relations Commission.

Since the contract has expired, the previous contract will remain in effect until the parties negotiate a successor agreement. Similar to the approach used across the University and in prior contract negotiations, UW has stated that it does not intend for wage increases to be applied retroactively, meaning wage increases would not begin before the new contract goes into effect.


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.