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Washington State Nurses Association Contract Negotiation Updates

In April of 2012, University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC) management and the Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA) agreed to terms for the 2012-2013 contract year of the parties' collective bargaining agreement, which expires on June 30, 2013. Contract negotiations for a successor agreement are now underway. WSNA represents more than 1400 registered nurses at UWMC.

Compensation: New compensation provisions went into effect on July 1, 2013, including 2 percent across-the-board increases for all employees in the bargaining unit. 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 Washington State Nurses Association Contract.

Nancy Dombrowski
Director; UW Labor Relations (Lead Negotiator)
Andrew Berg
Labor Relations Specialist; UW Labor Relations
Karla Clark
Senior Compensation Consultant for Medical Centers; HR Compensation
Catherine Cordner
Nurse Manager, Dermatology Center; UWMC Roosevelt
Shelley Deatrick
Nurse Manager, Perioperative-Anesthesia Care Unit; 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
Karen Odle
Assistant Administrator, Patient Care Services; UWMC
Grace Parker
Interim Chief Nursing Officer and Associate Administrator, Ambulatory Clinics; UWMC
Christine Sampson
Nurse Manager, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; UWMC
Sue Theiler
Nurse Manager, Orthopaedics, Ophthalmology, Oral Surgery; UWMC
Patty Van Velsir
HR Consultant; UWMC

Negotiations Recap for May 29, 2013

This recap details the fourth session for the renewal of the collective bargaining agreement between the UWMC and WSNA.

WSNA Counter-Proposals

WSNA presented a comprehensive counter-proposal and response, which included:

Innovative Work Schedule Agreement Form
WSNA proposed that nurses be allowed to submit changes to their work period four times per year or when transferring to a new unit.
Rest Between Shifts
WSNA declined UWMC's proposal to pay nurses at a premium rate only for the amount of time worked during their scheduled time off period.
WSNA proposed across-the-board wage increases of 2 percent July 1, 2013, 1.5 percent July 1, 2014, and 1.5 percent January 1, 2015.
New Wage Steps
WSNA proposed increases of 2 percent to numerous steps on the wage scale.

UWMC Responses

Rest Between Shifts
UWMC asserted that its policy surrounding rest between shifts premium is well outside of community standards. Currently nurses receiving anything less than their full designated time off between shifts will automatically be paid at a time-and-one-half rate for eight hours of their next shift.
UWMC reiterated its proposal to pay employees at a premium rate only for the amount of time worked during their scheduled time-off period, emphasizing that this aligns with the practice for nurses at most of UWMC's peer hospitals.
UWMC pointed out that when compared to other employees across the University, its nurses have been relatively insulated from the economic challenges confronting the UW in recent years.
As an example, UWMC presented data on the cost of the premium it pays to nurses holding a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. The projected cost for one year is nearly $1.9 million - about 2 percent of the roughly $98 million base payroll cost for UWMC nurses. At present, over 70 percent of UWMC nurses have attained a BSN or more advanced degree.

Tentative Agreement

Appendix III: Clinical Clusters Pertaining to Layoff
The parties tentatively agreed to updates to the clinical clusters pertaining to layoff in order to better reflect the current organizational structure.

Next Steps

The next UWMC-WSNA bargaining session is scheduled for June 6.

Negotiations Recap for May 23, 2013

This recap details the third session for the renewal of the collective bargaining agreement between the UWMC and WSNA.

UWMC Presentation

UWMC Proposals
Union Reports
UWMC proposed updates to language surrounding administrative processes such as dues deduction and the transmission of employee rosters in order to better reflect current practices.
Missed Rest Breaks
UWMC proposed requiring nurses to inform management immediately when they do not receive a break so that efforts can be made to reschedule the break on the same shift.
UWMC also proposed that after KRONOS' August implementation date, any missed rest breaks not documented in KRONOS be considered taken.
Layoff Units
UWMC proposed updates to the clinical clusters pertaining to layoff in order to better reflect the current organizational structure.
Innovative Work Schedule Agreement Form
UWMC proposed that beginning July 1, 2013, nurses may only submit changes to their work period once per year or when transferring to a new unit.
General Wage Increases
UWMC proposed an across-the-board wage increase, contingent upon the Washington State Legislature approving and appropriating the funds requested by the UW through the biennial budget process.
UWMC Compensation Presentation

UWMC presented 2012 and 2013 wage data comparing the average base pay of nurses at UWMC and Harborview to that of their peers: nine of Puget Sound's top health care organizations. UWMC and Harborview nurses are paid at 95.7 percent of the surveyed market median.

UWMC explained that the median - or market 50th percentile - is the value at which half of its peer hospitals pay above and half pay below, which is a common reference point used by organizations to remain competitive in their market.

On-Call Staffing Discussion

Gigi Jurich, Perinatal Services nurse manager and Cynthia Brazell, Emergency Department nurse manager, illustrated the need for a system of scheduled on-call in their departments.

Fluctuating patient census and other unpredictable factors in both departments can result in added burden to nurses at work, and recent trial-runs of a voluntary on-call system for the Labor and Delivery unit showed low participation.

Both Ms. Jurich and Ms. Brazell emphasized that their nurses are regularly willing to help out and fill in, but the process of finding and arranging for available nurses to come in takes too much time away from patient care.

Further Dialogue

WSNA questioned why UWMC, as a community leader in the care it provides, would not lead the market in wages.

UWMC explained that aside from paying wages that are competitive in the market, its nurses enjoy access to generous benefit and pension plans - at a time when many competitors are cutting back on costs of their health insurance and retirement plans.

Next Steps

The next UWMC-WSNA bargaining session is scheduled for May 29.

Negotiations Recap for May 15, 2013

This recap details the second session for the renewal of the collective bargaining agreement between the UWMC and WSNA.

UWMC Proposals

UWMC made several proposals addressing leave usage, hours of work, and scheduling, including:

Changes in Shift Length
UWMC proposed changes to allow managers more flexibility in determining the appropriate shift length for nurses in their unit.
Compensatory Time Off
UWMC proposed to eliminate compensatory time accumulation for extra "straight-time" hours worked, and proposed returning to the previous limit of 24 hours of accumulated compensatory time for overtime hours worked.
Rest Between Shifts
UWMC proposed to align its rest between shifts premium with community standards, such that a nurse receiving less than their scheduled time off between shifts be paid a premium for the time off that was lost.
On-Call Staffing
UWMC proposed a memorandum to establish a system of on-call scheduling in the Labor and Delivery Unit and in the Emergency Department.
Each nurse would have a minimum number of required on-call shifts per scheduling period, and would select such shifts as part of the self-scheduling process. The language also allows for a volunteer-based on-call system to be implemented by mutual agreement between the unit manager and the union.

Further Dialogue

UWMC Financial Response

WSNA stated that its analysis of UWMC's financials demonstrated higher operating margins in recent years than those presented by UW Medicine's finance experts at the previous bargaining session.

UWMC explained that as a state employer, it must adhere to different accounting standards than its peer hospitals that are private as well as public hospital districts. One key difference for UWMC is that interest expense, like a mortgage payment, is classified as a non-operating expense. For all UWMC's peers (except Harborview), interest expense is considered an operating expense, and is deducted from the hospitals' operating margins. Because UWMC interest expense represented nearly $4 million in fiscal year 2012 alone, UWMC's operating margin appears higher relative to its peers than it really is.


UWMC addressed questions and concerns raised by WSNA at the previous bargaining session surrounding employee parking that has been impacted by construction in recent years. Patricia Riley, UWMC associate administrator, explained in detail how parking is managed by UW Transportation Services across the campus.

She clarified that the light rail station construction will not result in a public park-and-ride lot. When this construction is completed in 2016, the affected lots are scheduled to return to their pre-construction number of parking spaces.

Next Step

The next UWMC-WSNA bargaining session is scheduled for May 23.