Labor Relations

Negotiations Recap for August 8, 2012

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

Opening Discussion

Bargaining Dates

Through testimonials from seven members, SEIU 1199 expressed frustration over the current state of bargaining, and reiterated the question of why it has fewer bargaining dates in the coming months than other unions.

UW/Harborview explained that Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) and Service Employees International Union, Local 925 (SEIU 925), the unions occupying the most bargaining time in the coming months, had agreed to their current rounds of bargaining roughly one year ago.

Initiating Negotiations

SEIU 1199 voiced that its members are of the understanding that the union had tried in vain for five months to bring UW/Harborview to the bargaining table and initiate negotiations before bargaining actually began.

UW/Harborview replied that this is inaccurate, clarifying that roughly five months before this round of bargaining, SEIU 1199 simply informed the UW/Harborview that it intended to reopen the contract at some point during the 2012 year. It was not until May that SEIU 1199 formally requested to bargain and suggested bargaining dates, and negotiations subsequently began in June.

UW/Harborview Presentation

Harborview Financial Presentation

Paul Ishizuka, UW Medicine Health System’s financial planning officer, delivered a presentation detailing Harborview Medical Center’s finances. Paul explained that in keeping with its mission, uncompensated care dominates Harborview’s economics. Since 2008, Harborview’s charity care has grown from $120 million per year to $189 million.

Paul presented a chart comparing the charity care provided by major hospitals in the region, demonstrating the disproportionate amount Harborview provides to the community, and the impacts this has on net income. In FY 2010, Harborview provided $186.7 million in charity care, and suffered a net loss of $10.4 million.

Paul reported that Harborview is forecast to end the year at $1.4 million above breakeven, but emphasized that this represents a very small margin for a medical center with $2 million in operating expenses per day. He pointed out that this year’s positive income was made possible by an uncommonly high number of unbudgeted and nonrecurring income items, including cost report settlements from past years and unanticipated state trauma funding.

Without the extraordinary $18.9 million brought in from these unanticipated sources, Harborview would have suffered a net loss of more than $15 million.

UW/Harborview Responses to SEIU 1199 Proposals
Leaves of Absence
UW/Harborview proposed a small table to have further discussion on all leave of absence related articles, including those on disability leave, parental leave, and bereavement leave.
Parental Leave
UW/Harborview tentatively agreed to allow SEIU 1199 members to apply up to 10 days of sick leave toward parental leave.
Bereavement Leave
UW/Harborview tentatively agreed to guarantee SEIU 1199 members three days of bereavement leave.
UW/Harborview Proposals
Corrective Action Process
Based on SEIU 1199’s previous input, UW/Harborview proposed establishing that employees will be given a draft action plan before a counseling session. UW/Harborview also agreed to define “Step A” counseling as informal, and require the use of a jointly developed action plan general template for formal counseling.
UW/Harborview proposed a small table to have a discussion related to corrective action.
Layoff Notice
Establish that all layoff notices will be sent to the SEIU 1199 office, as well as the employee.

SEIU 1199 Presentation

Key Points of SEIU 1199’s Proposals
KRONOS Committee Side Letter
The parties would convene a joint committee to discuss and monitor KRONOS implementation.
Electroneurodiagnostic (END) Technologist Proposal Update
SEIU 1199 amended its original proposal to guarantee that two END representatives will be paid to attend 2012 contract negotiations.
Medical Errors MOU
Memorialize the notion that errors are part of human nature, and prescribe criteria to foster a culture that minimizes the potential blame associated with medical errors.
Extended Leave Criteria
Nurses on extended leave could maintain their healthcare coverage by using eight hours of accrued leave, or by directly paying premiums to the University.
Clinic Nurse and Social Work Staffing
For both groups, UW/Harborview would commit to increase staffing in outpatient clinics, offer opportunities to increase full-time equivalencies of staff, and commit to develop staffing plans.
Educational and Professional Development
Increase the annual professional and educational development funding available for nurses (from $200 to $500 per full-time equivalent) and for health care specialists (from $1,500 to $3,000 per full-time equivalent).
SEIU 1199 also proposed that Harborview add $35,000 to a pooled hospital-wide professional and educational development fund for nurses.

Next Steps

The next UW/Harborview-SEIU 1199 bargaining session is scheduled for August 13.