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.
This recap details the first session for the renewal of the collective bargaining agreement between the UW and WSNA.
The parties agreed to several expectations for bargaining, including that all initial proposals will be delivered by the third session.
Release Time for Bargaining — The parties agreed that UW will provide up to eight hours of paid release time for WSNA's bargaining team for the first eight sessions. WSNA circulated a sign-in sheet in order to help facilitate payment of release time to employees.
Mandatory Union Membership — WSNA proposed a union shop provision, whereby all UWMC nurses would be required to join the union as dues-paying members within 31 days of hire or changing from per diem to classified staff.
General Wage Increases — WSNA proposed a 7 percent general wage increase effective July 1, 2015, and a 6 percent general wage increase effective July 1, 2016.
New Pay Steps — WSNA proposed adding new steps 30, 31, and 32 to the top of the pay range. Step 30 would provide for a 3 percent increase from step 29, step 31 would have no increase over 30, and step 32 would provide for a 3 percent increase from step 31.
Pay Premiums — WSNA proposed expansions to several pay premiums and differentials, including:
Parking — WSNA proposed that UW provide nurses with free parking in remote parking lots with free shuttle service to UWMC.
Staffing — WSNA proposed language memorializing the parties' commitment to safe staffing levels, safe patient care, and the health and safety of nurses. WSNA proposed allowing union representatives to be present at all staffing committee meetings, and proposed a prohibition on changes to staffing matrices or minimums without union agreement.
Orientation — WSNA proposed increasing the time guaranteed for the union's new-hire orientation from 15 minutes to 30, and that nurses transferring into the bargaining unit receive the same orientation and materials as provided for new-hires.
Probationary Period — WSNA proposed that nurses receive an oral and written evaluation halfway through their six month probationary period.
Rest Breaks — WSNA proposed the consolidation of several contractual and settlement documents between the parties relating to rest breaks into new contract language.
Tuition Exemption — WSNA voiced its intent to open the contract's tuition exemption section.
Leave Accruals — WSNA proposed that nurse vacation and sick leave accrual be determined by actual hours worked rather than a nurse's scheduled FTE (full-time equivalent), up to a 1.0 FTE.
Vacation Leave — WSNA proposed that UW make a good faith effort to grant vacation requests totaling at least 90 percent of the aggregate accrued annual leave of the bargaining unit for that calendar year.
The union also proposed that nurses receive a payout for all accrued vacation hours in excess of 240 on their anniversary date, rather than losing such accruals.
Duration — WSNA proposed a two year contract term, to expire on June 30, 2017.
Pam Palagi Assistant Administrator for UWMC Finance delivered a presentation reviewing UWMC's financial situation and summarizing national and regional healthcare industry, including trends and policy impacts.
Work Period — UW proposed limiting the work period options (for purposes of overtime eligibility) to either 40 hours in a seven day period or 80 hours in a 14 day period. UW explained that scheduling work periods over 160 hours can contribute to excessive stretches of work and contribute to nurse fatigue. UW clarified that it is not proposing to eliminate self-scheduling.
Overtime — Consistent with current practice since Kronos implementation, UW proposed that overtime go into effect if eight minutes or more are worked after the end of the scheduled shift (currently 15 minutes), and be calculated to the nearest quarter of an hour (currently 30 minutes).
Time Paid but not Worked — UW proposed language whereby an employee would not earn overtime for hours worked over their scheduled shift if on the day immediately before or after they took sick leave for a period of time equal to or greater than the extra time worked.
Rest Between Shifts — UW proposed standardizing the rest between shifts requirement, such that regardless of shift length, nurses not receiving unbroken rest 10- and one-half hours before the start of their next regularly scheduled shift would trigger the rest between shift premium.
Low Census — UW proposed enabling UWMC to implement reduced staffing during temporary periods of low patient census. Provisions included:
On Call — UW proposed mandatory on-call language based on other WSNA contracts, including:
Float Premium — UW proposed that newly hired nurses become eligible for float premium upon successful completion of orientation rather than upon hire, to provide improved equity until fully trained to float.
ECLS Nurse Premium — UW proposed that nurses receive $4 per hour for time designated as Extra-Corporeal Life Support ("ECLS") nurses.
Vacation Leave — UW proposed language establishing that vacation requests would be responded to within two weeks of that request, or as soon as reasonably practical.
Faith/Conscience Day — UW proposed language to codify 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 may only be denied if the employee's absence would create undue hardship (per WAC 82-56) or the employee is necessary to maintain public safety.
Leaves of Absence — UW proposed reordering certain provisions of this article to better align with how it is utilized.
Leave Due to Child Care Emergencies — UW proposed adding language to clarify that a child's illness is not covered by this section, and proposed that the use of vacation, sick and leave without pay under this provision be limited to three days total per calendar year.
Sick Leave — UW proposed language memorializing the parties' do not condone abuse of sick leave or unauthorized leave without pay, and clarifying that patterns of misuse or abuse of sick leave will result in corrective action, up to and including dismissal.
The next UW-WSNA bargaining session is scheduled for May 15.