UPDATE – Contract Ratified
WSNA's membership and the UW Board of Regents have approved the agreement between the UW and WSNA. This updated contract will remain in effect until June 30, 2013, and will be posted online soon.
Background: On July 13, 2010, UWMC and WSNA agreed to a one-year rollover of the previous collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”). Contract negotiations are now underway for the second year of the CBA which will start July 1, 2012 and expire on June 30, 2013.
UWMC Negotiations Team:
|Nancy Dombrowski||Director, Labor Relations (Lead Negotiator)|
|Andrew Berg||Labor Relations Specialist, Labor Relations|
|Leslie Hampton||Associate Director, Patient Care Services|
|A.J. Hartman||Communications Specialist, Labor Relations|
|Neal Pember||Assistant Director, HR Compensation|
|Sandy Saltzer||Director, Surgery Services|
|Christine Sampson||Nurse Manager, UW Medical Center|
|Sue Theiler||Nurse Manager, UW Medical Center|
|Patty Van Velsir||HR Consultant, UW Medical Center|
|Lorie Wild||Chief Nursing Officer, UW Medical Center|
This recap details the ninth round of bargaining between the UWMC and WSNA, and the third session facilitated by a Washington State Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) appointed mediator.
UWMC and WSNA reached the following tentative final agreement, which both parties will recommend to their constituents for approval and ratification:
If ratified, all other issues and proposals will be withdrawn by both parties, and everything else in the contract will remain as it was before.
UWMC and WSNA will now await a response from their respective constituents.
This recap details the eighth round of bargaining and the second session facilitated by a Washington State Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) appointed mediator.
UWMC began by noting that its state funding remains unresolved, as the Legislature is still in session. The economic downturn creates a precarious financial situation for many hospitals in the region. In budgeting for the 2013 fiscal year, UWMC is confronted with a minimum $30 million gap to close in operating costs.
UWMC has seen erosion in its payer mix, meaning fewer patients are commercially insured and more are either uninsured or supported by Medicaid. The change in payer mix is a double hit to UWMC's financial condition, as the cost of care exceeds the patients' ability to pay.
To make it safe to negotiate, UWMC and WSNA exchanged some hypothetical proposals through the mediator. These "what if" proposals allow both parties to be creative in exploring settlement options without committing either side to a fixed position.
UWMC suggested a compromise package for a one-year agreement through the mediator, including:
UWMC explained that additional enhancements will be difficult to accommodate without some financial efficiencies included in the package.
The next UW/WSNA mediated session is scheduled for April 23, 2012.
UWMC and WSNA began mediation on February 29, 2012 with a mediator appointed from the Washington State Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC). Mediation is a voluntary process in which a neutral third party facilitates the discussion with the goal of finding a mutually acceptable settlement. A mediator can suggest compromises, but cannot order either party to agree to a specific proposal or contract settlement.
At the start of this first session, the mediator asked UWMC and WSNA to meet together to share their perspectives on why an agreement has not yet been reached and review outstanding proposals.
UWMC began negotiations with WSNA in the summer of 2011 for the second year of the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which runs July 1, 2012 - June 30, 2013. Instead of focusing on the final year of the current agreement, WSNA has presented a three-year proposal for wage and benefits.
UWMC has explained that it is not able to expand the scope of negotiations into the 2013- 15 biennium due to legislative uncertainty (proposed changes in state Medicaid’s reimbursements, disproportionate share funding, and the possible elimination of Basic Health Plan, Disability Lifeline, Physician Supplemental Services Program, and the Safety Net Program) AND a high level of budget uncertainty (including changes in Medicare reimbursements, indirect medical education, and disproportionate share funding). In addition, UWMC anticipates that the 2013 implementation of the Health Benefit Exchange (part of heathcare reform) will bring a net revenue loss growing from $11.3 to $41.9 million over the first 3 years of the program.
UWMC also shared the state’s decision to increase the employer share of the “benefits load rate” from 33.4% to 38.9%. Just to maintain the current benefits program for UWMC nurses, who comprise 35% of medical center payroll, adds $5.6 million more in operating costs.
WSNA proposes a three-year contract with annual 3% across-the-board raises plus two new top steps for the most senior nurses. The union also seeks increases to existing pay premiums and additional time off, at an annual additional cost exceeding $3.1 million.
UWMC has provided data showing that recent pay increases at other Puget Sound region medical centers have not been at or near the level WSNA is proposing.
UWMC shared with the mediator the following work rule proposals that have not yet been resolved through negotiations.
This recap details the sixth session of the negotiations that began earlier this summer.
UWMC Presentation: UWMC shared state budget reductions alternatives that have been published by the Washington State Office of Financial Management (OFM). Proposed cuts go across general government, higher education, K–12 basic education, public safety, and health services. Included in Governor Gregoire’s supplemental budget proposal is a cut to state grants for hospitals that receive help with costs of providing charity care. The OFM report specifically calls out that the majority of this proposed $27.8 million reduction would affect Harborview Medical Center and the University of Washington Medical Center.
In addition to the proposed state cuts, UWMC anticipates significant revenue loss due to reductions to Medicaid, the Basic Health Plan, and other programs. The financial impact is not yet fully understood, but the loss of revenue is expected to be millions of dollars.
Ongoing Dialogue: Salaries
UWMC and WSNA continued the discussion of salary increases. WSNA reiterated reasons why salary increases are justified including recruitment and retention concerns, rising costs of gas, parking, and healthcare coverage, and that salary increases are the best way to show how the medical center values and respects its nurses.
UWMC reiterated that the level of fiscal uncertainty precluded it from including salary increases in the second year of the contract. UWMC offered that nurse managers give regular feedback during rounds to support and recognize its nursing team, UWMC's major investments in buildings, equipment and clinical programs improve the workplace environment for nurses, and that all staff have felt the impact of the increasing cost of living. Unlike other UWMC staff, nurses have received salary increases that help defray increased costs all employees have experienced. UWMC also shared that both new graduate and experienced nurse new hires have expressed appreciation for the practice environment UWMC offers professional nurses.
New Dialogue: Reaction to Steve Zieniewicz comments in Spotlight
WSNA brought up the note from Steve Zieniewicz in Spotlight that was distributed on November 4, 2011 and described UWMC as, “stable and successful, recognized locally and nationally for healthcare leadership, and well positioned for the challenges ahead.”
UWMC explained that the medical center earned a healthy operating margin last year, but significant cost pressures on the horizon create much budget uncertainty. State revenue losses, combined with higher operational costs associated with the opening of the new hospital wing, will result in lower margins for the next fiscal year at least.
Investments in facilities, equipment, and staffing will support nurses and their work. Recent projects include:
Many other hospitals in the region are responding to financial pressures with layoffs and the aggressive use of low census days for nurses. UWMC has been able to avoid these steps thus far. UWMC remains a competitive employer of registered nurses who wish to grow professionally based on its benefits package, practice resources, and a collaborative team practice environment.
Future meetings: The parties agreed there is little reason to meet in December and that employing the services of a mediator may be a constructive next step.
This recap details the fifth session of the negotiations that began earlier this summer.
UWMC Presentation: In response to WSNA’s request for detailed information about salary increases or other compensation received by management and other groups of employees between 2008-2011, UWMC presented the following information:
Proposals & Counter Proposals
UWMC requested further clarification on several previous WSNA proposals, including:
WSNA proposed increases to seven existing premiums and the creation of two new premiums for:
UWMC Response: UWMC estimates that these premium proposals amount to $3,136,000 a year in additional compensation. In response to the new premium request for nurses who perform dialysis or vascular access/PICC insertion, UWMC explained that because nurses hold a wide range of clinical skills—some generalized and others specialized—linking premium pay to specific clinical tasks would be a significant philosophical departure and one that cannot be supported.
WSNA provided a chart on local hospital nurse pay rates that will be in effect by July 2012 and reiterated its position that UWMC nurses are going to lag behind this market without pay raises next year.
The next UW/WSNA bargaining session is scheduled for November 15, 2011.
WSNA Presentation: The importance of nurse staffing and the importance of nurses in achieving UWMC’s Patients First pillar goals.
UWMC Response to the Presentation:
Proposals & Counter Proposals: In response to WSNA’s July 2011 proposal to raise nurses’ salaries 9% to 50% in a period of three years, UWMC proposed nurse salary increases be deferred for another year in light of continuing economic uncertainty with the state budget, for the University as a whole, and the medical center in particular. In making this counter-proposal, the UWMC Negotiations Team shared the following research findings:
UWMC withdrew the “low census” proposal in response to WSNA complaints. UWMC understands that its nurses are crucial to maintaining its outstanding reputation. To maintain its competitive edge over the vast majority of area hospitals, UWMC has agreed not to use “low census” days in scheduling.
UWMC proposed standardizing the advanced notice required for sick leave so that two hours’ notice is required for both day and night shifts. The union is considering the proposal.
WSNA proposed “incentive shifts” to provide a monetary incentive for nurses who are willing to sign up for extra shifts as designated by management.
Updates: UWMC informed WSNA that there has been a delay in the Kronos implementation date. New target date is February 1, 2012.
The next UW/WSNA bargaining session is scheduled for October 19, 2011.
Prior Negotiation Updates