Labor Relations

Negotiations Recap for June 19, 2012

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

Introduction and Ground Rules

Negotiations started with testimonials from several SEIU 1199 members, each outlining their individual priorities for the negotiations to come.

UW/Harborview began by establishing that its overriding priority for these negotiations is to reach an agreement that is best for the patients that are served by Harborview Medical Center and Airlift Northwest.

UW/Harborview proposed a series of ground rules, which were discussed and clarified by both parties. SEIU 1199 committed to submit its proposed revisions to these ground rules in writing to the UW/Harborview soon.

Scope of Negotiations

UW/Harborview proposed that both parties start by clearly establishing whether this round of bargaining should negotiate the entire 2013-2015 biennium, or just the coming year.

UW/Harborview pointed out that given current economic uncertainty and the hope for improvements in 2013, many unions are choosing to roll over their existing contracts in favor of returning to the bargaining table next year to negotiate the 2013-2015 biennium.

UW/Harborview noted that no current union contracts provide for a wage increase until July 1, 2013, at the earliest.

UW/Harborview explained that this decision varies for each union, and that it will work collaboratively within whichever framework SEIU 1199 decides is most strategic.

Union Proposals

SEIU 1199 presented a series of conceptual revisions to the existing collective bargaining agreement. The majority were placeholders for proposals that are yet to come.

The initial set of proposals included expanding the job classes eligible for “Preceptor” and “Rest Between Shifts” pay premiums, and increasing leave time and funding for professional and educational development.

SEIU 1199 also proposed implementing a 24-hour shift schedule at the Airlift Northwest Juneau base, adding break-relief nurse positions at Harborview Medical Center to fill in for nurses during their rest breaks, and increasing the number of union members that are paid to attend negotiations from 12 to 20.

Further Dialogue

SEIU 1199 requested to extend the current contract until August 31, 2012.

UW/Harborview replied that it would consider this and respond soon, explaining that it is in the interest of both parties to allow for organic dialogue instead of rushing the process. UW/Harborview acknowledged that summer is the busiest season for Harborview Medical Center and Airlift Northwest, which will affect logistics for convening bargaining sessions.

SEIU 1199 proposed dividing the main bargaining table into smaller bargaining tables specific to certain bargaining units.

These small tables would address issues that are specific to some of the more unique units, including Airlift Northwest and healthcare specialists, as a supplement to the broader negotiations at the main table. These sub-tables would ultimately bring their recommendations before the main table to seek final approval. SEIU 1199 noted that this will require additional representatives from distinct units to attend negotiations.

UW/Harborview expressed support for this idea, assuming that the need for more union participants at some negotiation sessions does not impact the operational needs of the units from which they are coming.

Next Steps

The next UW/Harborview – SEIU 1199 bargaining session is scheduled for July 12.

Additional negotiations are currently scheduled for July 20, August 13, and August 24.