Labor Relations

Negotiations Recap for July 20, 2012

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

Contract Duration

SEIU 1199 proposed that the current negotiations establish an agreement that covers the remainder of the current biennium and the entire 2013-2015 biennium, effective September 1, 2012, through June 30, 2015.

UW/Harborview expressed appreciation for SEIU 1199 deciding its intended term for the contract currently being negotiated, noting that such a decision could provide more opportunity for additional bargaining dates. UW/Harborview promised to review the legality of such an agreement, as contracts negotiated under RCW 41.80 (like SEIU 1199’s) are typically limited to one fiscal biennium.

SEIU 1199 Presentation

“Meal and Rest Break” Proposal

SEIU 1199 proposed establishing a standard time schedule for all employees’ use of meal and rest breaks. Nine members of SEIU 1199’s bargaining team gave testimonials in favor of the proposal.

The proposal would establish that breaks may only be interrupted by large-scale emergencies or cases where the employee on break determines that their absence could result in patient harm.

SEIU 1199 members claimed that current practice for many employees is to work through their breaks without bringing it to the attention of management.

UW/Harborview explained that it is critical for all employees to take their designated breaks.

UW/Harborview pointed out that any employees finding it difficult to consistently take their breaks need to report this to their leadership, so that management knows of the problem and can work to fix it. UW/Harborview acknowledged the patient-safety implications of employees not taking their intended rest breaks.

Small Table Discussion: Staffing Issues

SEIU 1199 proposed establishing a “Break-Relief Nurse” position.

The new Break-Relief Nurse job class would work in four, five, six, or eight hour shifts to relieve regular nurses during their rest breaks.

UW/Harborview recognized the importance of uninterrupted breaks for nurses, and voiced its agreement with the intent of the proposal. UW/Harborview suggested that the parties gather data and establish measurable steps toward a solution.

SEIU 1199 detailed its “Commitment to Staff” proposal.

SEIU 1199 explained that this proposal is intended to eliminate periods of being short-staffed, suggesting higher patient mortality rates occur at chronically short-staffed hospitals.

UW/Harborview indicated that appropriate staffing is a priority for Harborview, and voiced its commitment to creating an optimum staffing plan. Harborview noted that its fluctuations in patient volume, inherent to trauma centers, can make for periods of being either understaffed or overstaffed.

Further Dialogue

SEIU 1199 questioned why it has fewer bargaining dates in the coming months than the Service Employees International Union, Local 925 (SEIU 925) and the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE).

UW/Harborview explained that due to the significant amount of state funds typically required for the SEIU 925 and WFSE contracts, their negotiated agreements must be submitted to the state for a financial feasibility test by October 1 of the year prior to the beginning of the contract.

SEIU 1199 expressed gratitude for the decision to delay implementation of the new performance evaluation form.

UW/Harborview voiced its appreciation for the constructive participation of SEIU 1199 and other unions during the performance evaluation planning process, and expressed that the decision to postpone the implementation centered on respecting the mutual interests and concerns of all parties.

Next Steps

The next UW/Harborview-SEIU 1199 bargaining session is scheduled for July 25.