Labor Relations

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.