We had our 10th negotiating session on Tuesday, Oct. 30. During prior sessions, we reached tentative agreements with Management on enhanced sick leave use, charge nurse premium increases, and education premiums. To be clear — it was WSNA who brought those proposals to the table. The support of the bargaining unit has helped us make progress on these issues. Your continued support is essential and appreciated. But there is much more work to be done.
Here is where we stand on some of the major issues:
WSNA has heard your concerns about safe staffing and has made a substantive proposal to address these concerns that would:
- Require SRH to provide staffing levels that enable nurses to take meal and rest breaks while maintaining quality patient care;
- Prohibit SRH from requiring nurses to provide care to more patients than anticipated by the agreed staffing matrix;
- Require SRH to maintain staffing levels that enable nurses to meet their responsibilities under the Nurse Practice Act.
To date, Management has rejected each and every one of these proposals and has offered no substantive contractual proposal that would address these staffing concerns. Management merely tells us some of the actions it has taken independently, such as hiring traveler nurses into the float pool. These actions are not sufficient to address the issues that we have raised. More importantly, we have told Management that nurses want contractual language regarding staffing and not just promises of what it intends to do.
At our most recent session, we told Management that we believe that patient care would be enhanced by instituting and reinforcing the roles of:
* Resource Nurses
* ED Triage Nurses
* IV Therapy Nurse
Management is still insisting on reducing nurses’ options and protections in the event of a layoff. Under this proposal, Management would have the ability to change nurses’ FTEs, shifts and hours without following the current layoff procedures which have been in the contract for years. Management’s dangerous proposal would dilute the power of seniority and give us far fewer options than we currently have.
The wages for RNs at SRH have lagged behind those of nurses working at nearby WSNA Hospitals for some time now. WSNA has been proposing that SRH increase wages since day one of bargaining to correct the competitive wage disadvantage that Management has insisted upon in past negotiations.
Meanwhile, Management is still insisting on tying wage increases to quality metrics goals. If the Hospital doesn’t meet these goals, nurses will not get their full potential wage increases. We can only assume that Management believes that SRH nurses have all the tools and staffing support for the Hospital to meet these goals. Meanwhile, nurses tell us about staffing problems at SRH; and Management refuses to agree to substantive, meaningful approaches to staffing problems. Management fails to recognize that nurses are professionally driven and, that given the proper tools and support, provide exemplary care. Other area WSNA hospitals understand this and do not hold their nurses’ compensation hostage as part of a misguided pay practice. They guarantee full wage increases for the life of their contracts all the while facing similar Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement constraints as SRH. We fear that Management’s dangerous new approach to compensation will give SRH nurses yet another reason to look elsewhere for employment.
Moreover, Management has recently insisted on the ability to try to reduce your wages during the life of the contract. That’s right. In addition to wanting the ability to try to reduce your medical and retirement benefits during the life of the contract, Management now wants a crack at your wages.
Finally, Management has communicated to you that it wants to complete contract negotiations soon so that you can get raises. What Management chose not to tell you is that they have proposed that any wage increase will not be effective until the contract has been ratified. Since day one of bargaining, WSNA has proposed that wage increases will be effective from the expiration date of the current contract. Management’s proposal is nothing but a strong-arm tactic to pressure nurses to accept a sub-standard contract. WSNA has been ready and willing to bargain all issues throughout negotiations, including medical and retirement benefits. Meanwhile, Management tells us that it needs more time to figure out what it wants to do with medical and retirement benefits. Nurses’ timely wage increases should not be held hostage because of Management’s lack of preparation for these negotiations.
Our next sessions are scheduled for November 14 and 26.
Thanks to All of you who attended the Board Meeting on October 26. Nurses delivered a powerful message to members of the Board.
for more information on how you can make your voice heard in these negotiations!
Your WSNA Negotiation Team: Peter Moore (MPC), Alyssa Stirpe (Stanwood), Randi Dykstra (Case Management), Rachel Yates (MPC), Liz Rainaud (FBC), Alice Riddle (IV Therapy) and Jessica Knutzen (Float Pool)
Contact WSNA Nurse Representative Sue O’Donnell at firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions.