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SEIU 1199 Contract Negotiation Updates

SEIU 1199 represents technical and social workers, healthcare specialists, and registered nurses at Harborview Medical Center (Harborview), as well as the airborne flight nurses of Airlift Northwest.

Compensation: New compensation provisions went into effect on July 1, 2013, including 2 percent across-the-board increases for all employees in the bargaining units. This and other applicable compensation provisions that are effective July 1, 2013 will be first reflected on the July 25, 2013 paycheck, for the pay period ending July 15, 2013.

Contract Publication: The 2013-2015 collective bargaining agreement has been published to the Labor Relations website. View the 2013-2015 SEIU 1199 Contract.

Peter Denis
Assistant Vice President, Labor Relations (Lead Negotiator)
Bonnie Conley
Director, Social Work, Harborview Medical Center
A.J. Hartman
Communications Specialist, Labor Relations
Julie Hoffman
Regional Manager, Airlift Northwest
Darcy Jaffe
Chief Nursing Officer, Harborview Medical Center
Pranika Laing
HR Consultant, UW Medical Centers
Joe Marotta
Administrative Director, Radiology, Harborview Medical Center
Chris Martin
Executive Director, Airlift Northwest
Kathy Mertens
Director, Clinical Care Systems, Harborview Medical Center
Paula Minton-Foltz
Assistant Administrator, Patient Care Services, Harborview Medical Center
Neal Pember
Assistant Director, HR Compensation
Becky Pierce
Associate Administrator, Patient Care Services , Harborview Medical Center

Negotiations Recap for July 25, 2012

This recap details the fourth session for the renewal of the collective bargaining agreement between the UW/Harborview and SEIU 1199.

Contract Duration

UW/Harborview responded to SEIU 1199's proposed three-year contract duration, after consulting the Attorney General's office. UW/Harborview reported that the laws governing the SEIU 1199 contract do not allow for a contract exceeding one fiscal biennium.

UW/Harborview explained that the parties can bargain both the current year and the 2013-2015 biennium now, or just bargain the 2013-2015 biennium. In the latter case, UW/Harborview pointed out that the existing contract will automatically roll over for one year anyway if an agreement is not reached by the August 31, 2012, contract expiration.

SEIU 1199 Presentation

SEIU 1199 Proposals
Parental Leave
Allow fathers of newly born or adopted children to apply sick leave toward time spent bonding with their child.
Integrating State Leave Policies
Add new contract articles that paraphrase current state law on employee leave for military reasons, as well as for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
UW Response

UW explained that it is already obligated to adhere to state law, and that state laws such as these have been subject to frequent change. UW suggested adding to the contract a reference to direct employees to the relevant laws, instead of writing the law into the contract, which could require regular updates.

SEIU 1199 Small Table Proposals: Discipline
Discipline/Corrective Action Process
Prescribe a universal process for administering corrective action, which includes starting all discipline at the lowest possible level and encouraging union involvement.
Written Action Plans
Remove any formality surrounding "Step A" discipline, and make the creation of action plans a joint effort between employees and management.
Personnel Files
Enable employees to request the removal of documents from their personnel file only one year after the incident in question, instead of three years.
SEIU 1199 Small Table Proposals: Professional/Technical and Respiratory Therapist/Anesthesiology Technician Bargaining Units
Rest Between Shifts
Apply the minimum hours of rest between shifts that nurses receive to employees in the Professional/Technical and Respiratory Therapist/Anesthesiology Technician bargaining units, making them eligible to receive premium pay for time worked within their guaranteed rest period.
Layoff Protocol
In cases where layoffs are necessary, UW/Harborview and SEIU 1199 would discuss and decide which employees to lay off at joint labor-management meetings.

UW/Harborview Proposals

Contract Distribution
Eliminate printing and distribution of paper contracts in favor of accessing and utilizing the collective bargaining agreement online.

Further Dialogue

Responses to Proposals

SEIU 1199 expressed frustration over UW/Harborview having not responded to more of its proposals. SEIU 1199 reviewed a list of 15 items from its overall proposal that it feels do not have a significant monetary cost to implement.

UW/Harborview pointed out that the majority of SEIU 1199's overall proposal has consisted of placeholders for future proposals, and none of its financial proposals have been delivered.

UW/Harborview explained that it cannot provide a definitive response to proposals that contain any economic value without weighing them in the context of all of SEIU 1199's economic proposals, reiterating the need for a more tangible grasp on the details of SEIU 1199's overall package proposal.

Harborview Culture Change

SEIU 1199 expressed concern that in recent years the culture at Harborview has changed to become more fearful and more punitive.

UW/Harborview acknowledged that change has occurred recently, but with the intention of improving the overall environment at Harborview. UW/Harborview presented a chart showing patient satisfaction survey scores from 2007 to 2012, indicating that in recent years patient satisfaction has actually significantly increased.

Next Steps

The next UW/Harborview-SEIU 1199 bargaining session is scheduled for August 8.

Negotiations Recap for July 20, 2012

This recap details the third session for the renewal of the collective bargaining agreement between the UW/Harborview and SEIU 1199.

Contract Duration

SEIU 1199 proposed that the current negotiations establish an agreement that covers the remainder of the current biennium and the entire 2013-2015 biennium, effective September 1, 2012, through June 30, 2015.

UW/Harborview expressed appreciation for SEIU 1199 deciding its intended term for the contract currently being negotiated, noting that such a decision could provide more opportunity for additional bargaining dates. UW/Harborview promised to review the legality of such an agreement, as contracts negotiated under RCW 41.80 (like SEIU 1199's) are typically limited to one fiscal biennium.

SEIU 1199 Presentation

"Meal and Rest Break" Proposal

SEIU 1199 proposed establishing a standard time schedule for all employees' use of meal and rest breaks. Nine members of SEIU 1199's bargaining team gave testimonials in favor of the proposal.

The proposal would establish that breaks may only be interrupted by large-scale emergencies or cases where the employee on break determines that their absence could result in patient harm.

SEIU 1199 members claimed that current practice for many employees is to work through their breaks without bringing it to the attention of management.

UW/Harborview explained that it is critical for all employees to take their designated breaks.

UW/Harborview pointed out that any employees finding it difficult to consistently take their breaks need to report this to their leadership, so that management knows of the problem and can work to fix it. UW/Harborview acknowledged the patient-safety implications of employees not taking their intended rest breaks.

Small Table Discussion: Staffing Issues

SEIU 1199 proposed establishing a "Break-Relief Nurse" position.

The new Break-Relief Nurse job class would work in four, five, six, or eight hour shifts to relieve regular nurses during their rest breaks.

UW/Harborview recognized the importance of uninterrupted breaks for nurses, and voiced its agreement with the intent of the proposal. UW/Harborview suggested that the parties gather data and establish measurable steps toward a solution.

SEIU 1199 detailed its "Commitment to Staff" proposal.

SEIU 1199 explained that this proposal is intended to eliminate periods of being short-staffed, suggesting higher patient mortality rates occur at chronically short-staffed hospitals.

UW/Harborview indicated that appropriate staffing is a priority for Harborview, and voiced its commitment to creating an optimum staffing plan. Harborview noted that its fluctuations in patient volume, inherent to trauma centers, can make for periods of being either understaffed or overstaffed.

Further Dialogue

SEIU 1199 questioned why it has fewer bargaining dates in the coming months than the Service Employees International Union, Local 925 (SEIU 925) and the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE).

UW/Harborview explained that due to the significant amount of state funds typically required for the SEIU 925 and WFSE contracts, their negotiated agreements must be submitted to the state for a financial feasibility test by October 1 of the year prior to the beginning of the contract.

SEIU 1199 expressed gratitude for the decision to delay implementation of the new performance evaluation form.

UW/Harborview voiced its appreciation for the constructive participation of SEIU 1199 and other unions during the performance evaluation planning process, and expressed that the decision to postpone the implementation centered on respecting the mutual interests and concerns of all parties.

Next Steps

The next UW/Harborview-SEIU 1199 bargaining session is scheduled for July 25.

Negotiations Recap for July 12, 2012

This recap details the second session for the renewal of the collective bargaining agreement between the UW/Harborview and SEIU 1199.

Ground Rules and Contract Extension

UW began by presenting a revised series of ground rules reflecting SEIU 1199's feedback, which SEIU 1199 promised to review. UW/Harborview also confirmed its acceptance of SEIU 1199's proposal to extend the current contract until August 31, 2012.

SEIU 1199 asked UW/Harborview for a response to its initial contract proposals.

UW/Harborview pointed out that most of SEIU's initial overall proposals consist of interrelated placeholders for specific contract language that have not yet been shared with the UW/Harborview, and many contain economic elements. UW/Harborview explained that it is not comfortable responding to individual items that are potentially linked to future unknown proposals, particularly those with economic implications.

UW/Harborview presented to SEIU 1199 a list of the union's 25 placeholders from its initial package proposal.

UW/Harborview Presentation

Terms of the Agreement

UW/Harborview reiterated the importance of establishing the term for which the parties are bargaining, and whether SEIU 1199 is expecting to bargain both the current year and the 2013-2015 biennium during the current negotiations, or just the current year.

UW/Harborview explained that the Washington Office of Financial Management's economic outlook for the 2013-2015 biennium is currently inconclusive, and that it will likely not have a clearer idea of the state's economic forecast until mid- to late-September. UW/Harborview suggested that the parties consider the uncertain economic realities when deciding the term for which they are bargaining.

UW/Harborview Proposals

UW/Harborview outlined the key issues that its overall proposal will address, including economic issues, leave, hours of work and overtime, on-call staffing, and a low census option for Harborview to more effectively make necessary adjustments during times of decreased patient volume.

UW/Harborview also proposed establishing a standard order in which an employee's accrued paid leave would be used while on family and medical leave, to make the process clearer, starting with sick leave, followed by compensatory time, and then vacation time.

SEIU 1199 Presentation

Review of Original Proposal

SEIU 1199 went through its original proposal again, clarifying certain provisions, and reviewed each of the placeholders that UW/Harborview had presented.

New Proposals

SEIU 1199 presented selected new proposals, including an expansion to the type of work that qualifies for a "Preceptor" pay premium and making Respiratory Care Practitioners eligible for two certification premiums instead of one.

SEIU 1199 also put forth a "Commitment to Staff" provision, establishing that Harborview will remain committed to maintaining appropriate staffing levels. This would ensure adequate staffing in times of high demand, while providing for necessary adjustments during times of decreased patient volume.

Additionally, SEIU 1199 introduced five new placeholders for contract proposals that it will put forth at a future bargaining session.

Further Dialogue

Small Table Discussions and Bargaining Dates

SEIU 1199 proposed topics for eight separate small table meetings to discuss specific employee groups (including Airlift Northwest, Nurses and Social Workers, and Health Care Specialists) as well as certain issue areas (including nurse staffing, KRONOS, and all grievance, discipline, and performance evaluation issues).

SEIU 1199 clarified its expectation that the already-established bargaining dates will remain "large table" discussions, and that it will require additional dates for these small table meetings.

UW/Harborview explained that no more dates are available, and emphasized the need for both parties to work creatively and efficiently with the days that have already been established.

UW/Harborview reiterated that members of both negotiations teams have very limited availability during the summer, which is Harborview's busiest season.

SEIU Testimonials

SEIU 1199 members gave testimonials supporting the inclusion of Electroneurodiagnostic (END) Technologists into the SEIU 1199 union.

UW/Harborview voiced its support for the democratic process and the rights of all its employees to choose union representation if they are so inclined. UW/Harborview noted that as long as the Public Employment Relations Commission legally approves the change, it will endorse the employees' decision.

SEIU 1199 members gave testimonials in opposition to the forthcoming implementation of a new performance evaluation form.

UW/Harborview explained that the creation and administration of performance evaluations is a management duty, which is not subject to bargaining. UW/Harborview clarified, however, that it is obligated to bargain the effects of such a change.

UW/Harborview expressed that it shares an interest in having a collaborative conversation to improve the evaluation format for better understanding and acceptance across the organization. UW/Harborview pointed out that for this reason, it has been discussing the performance evaluation issue with SEIU 1199, SEIU 925, and WFSE for months.

Next Steps

The next UW/Harborview-SEIU 1199 bargaining session is scheduled for July 20.