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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
Keri Nasenbeny
Assistant Administrator, Patient Care Services 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

Tentative Agreement Reached on 2015-2017 Contract

The parties reached a comprehensive tentative agreement for the 2015-2017 contract during the 16th bargaining session, on December 17, 2015.

Highlights of the 2015-2017 Agreement

Wages

  • General Wage Increases:
    • 3% across the board wage increase for year one, effective after ratification.
    • 3% across the board wage increase, effective July 1, 2016.
  • Lump Sum Payment:
    • $600 lump sum payment upon ratification for nurses above .6 FTE.
    • $300 lump sum payment upon ratification for nurses at or below .6 FTE.
  • Top Step: The parties agreed to add a new salary step to the top of the wage scale, effective in the pay period following ratification.

Premiums

  • Certification Premium: Certification pay will be increased to $1.25 per hour for eligible nurses certified in their area of specialty practice.
  • ECLS Nurse Premium: The parties agreed to a $4 per hour premium for time designated as Extra-Corporeal Life Support ("ECLS") nurses.
  • Resource Vascular Access Team Premium: The parties agreed to a $4 per hour premium for time designated as Resource Vascular Access Team nurses.

Union Security ("Fair Share") – If the Supreme Court decides that mandatory union dues/fees are legal in the upcoming "Friedrichs" decision (anticipated next June), the parties will then conduct a vote (administered by the Public Employment Relations Commission) to determine whether or not payment of dues/fees should be mandatory for new nurses at UWMC.

Staffing – The parties agreed to language providing clear staffing guidelines and goals. Agreed-upon language maintains UWMC's ongoing commitment to make a good faith effort to provide staffing levels that enable nurses to receive rest and meal breaks and take accrued leave, as well as to not regularly assign nurses to care for more patients than anticipated by the staffing matrix and relevant safety requirements.

On-call – Mandatory on-call will be limited to a mutually agreed upon list of departments.

Call Back and Standby – Expansions to call back and standby premiums will increase the minimum work period guaranteed to nurses at a time-and-one-half rate to three hours.

Nurse Orientation – The parties agreed to increase WSNA's access to new-hires and transfers during orientation, including increasing the designated union time during orientation from 15 to 30 minutes.

Nursing Masters Degrees – The parties agreed to memorialize that nurses receive a one-step pay increase for attaining a Masters in Nursing or Masters of Science in Nursing degree.

Next Steps

The parties will now recommend this agreement to their constituents for approval and ratification.


Negotiations Recap for December 2, 2015

This recap details the 15th session for the renewal of the collective bargaining agreement between UWMC and WSNA, which expired as of July 1, 2015. This was the fifth session to be facilitated by a State-appointed mediator.

Discussion of Outstanding Issues

The parties worked through the mediator to discuss the outstanding issues of wages, staffing, on-call, and union security (whether to require new nurses to pay dues or a "fair share" fee to the union).

UWMC has delivered responses on all outstanding subjects, which the parties are working to resolve through package proposals. WSNA has not yet delivered a response to UW's "what-if" package from November 3.

Next Steps

The parties agreed to meet again to continue negotiations on December 17. 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 proposed not to make wage increases apply retroactively, meaning wage increases would not begin before the new contract goes into effect.


Negotiations Recap for November 12, 2015

This recap details the 14th session for the renewal of the collective bargaining agreement between UWMC and WSNA, which expired as of July 1, 2015. This was the fourth session to be facilitated by a State-appointed mediator.

Union Security ("Fair Share") Discussion

The parties worked through the mediator to discuss the outstanding issue of requiring UWMC nurses (or all newly-hired nurses, under another proposal) to pay member dues or “fair share” fees to the union. UWMC maintains that the nurses should continue to have a choice about whether or not they pay dues or a “fair share” fee to the union.

Under the current system, nurses join the union after being hired and have the right to opt out each year. The current ability to opt out provides a level of choice for nurses that we feel supports the professional autonomy that is so valued at UWMC.

UWMC management supports the right of nurses to join WSNA and participate with the union, as well as the right to opt-out for those who exercise that choice. During these negotiations UWMC has agreed to double the amount of time guaranteed for the union's new-hire orientation, to further support WSNA's ability to reach and inform prospective members.

Other Outstanding Issues

Matters of staffing, mandatory on-call, and wages also remain unresolved. UWMC has delivered responses on all outstanding subjects, which the parties are working to resolve through package proposals.

UWMC's most recent wage package calls for a $200 lump sum payment upon contract ratification, a 3 percent across-the-board wage increase upon ratification, and a 2.5 percent across-the-board increase in fiscal year 2017 (split across two dates). WSNA has not yet delivered a response to UW's "what-if" package from November 3.

Next Steps

The parties agreed to meet again to continue negotiations on December 2. 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 proposed not to make wage increases apply retroactively, meaning wage increases would not begin before the new contract goes into effect.