Labor Relations

Negotiations Recap for May 19, 2015

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

Harborview Financial Presentation

Kera Dennis, Assistant Administrator for Harborview Finance, delivered a presentation reviewing Harborview’s financial situation and summarizing national and regional healthcare trends and policy impacts.

Trends – Roughly half of Harborview’s net patient revenue comes from commercially-insured payers. Due to the Affordable Care Act, this population is experiencing a steady decline as more people shift to healthcare exchanges.

Net Revenue Assumptions – Payment assumptions across the board are unfavorable, and Harborview will not continue to make money at current levels. With near zero volume growth, total net revenue is projected to decline slightly over the five year forecast period. In 2016, Harborview’s total expenses are expected to match its total revenue.

Expense Assumptions – Salary and benefit expenses increased significantly due to projected increases in health care costs of more than 30 percent as well as retirement funding for university employees, translating into an estimated impact of more than $17 million in fiscal year 2016.

UW Total Compensation – UW has a very strong benefits package, the value of which equates to roughly an additional 40 percent of an employee’s entire salary. Benefits packages at several local peer organizations are less robust, valued at roughly 20 percent of an employee’s salary.

UW illustrated this point with the following example, comparing the benefits load rate for a Harborview employee to that of an employee at a sample peer organization:

  • Harborview: Earns $50,000/year + $20,000 in benefits (40%) = $70,000 total compensation.
  • Peer Hospital: Earns $55,000/year + $11,000 in benefits (20%) = $66,000 total compensation.

Credit Ratings – Harborview targets long term financial ratios that are comparable with a Moody’s BAA bond rating. This means that Harborview should have 148 days cash on hand to maintain operations in an environment with increasing pressures on net revenue. In fiscal year 2015, Harborview had roughly 113 days cash on hand, with a goal to reach the targeted cash levels in the long range financial plan.

Buildings and Maintenance – Buildings, remodels and maintenance are funded by Harborview, and are not supported by tax dollars or money from King County. The only exception to this is the Maleng building, but Harborview still absorbs $6 million of depreciation expense annually on this building. Additionally, Harborview will incur over $25 million per year in lease expense associated with the NJB, Pat Steel and Harborview Hall buildings.

UW Initial Proposal

UW delivered an initial proposal comprised of several existing and new provisions, including:

Drug and Alcohol Free Workplace – UW proposed a new provision memorializing the expectation that employees report to work unimpaired by alcohol or drugs, and in a condition fit to perform their assigned duties. Components included:

  • Possession: Employees may not use or possess alcohol, marijuana, or illegal drugs in UW vehicles, on agency premises, or on official business.
  • Prescriptions: If there is substantial likelihood that an employee’s medication will affect job safety, they would need to notify their supervisor of the fact that they are taking a medication and of the side effects.
  • Reasonable Suspicion Testing: UW could direct testing for alcohol, marijuana, or controlled substances when there is reason to suspect that usage of such substances may be adversely affecting the employee’s job performance or could pose a danger to physical safety. Reasonable suspicion must be supported by specific and objective grounds.
  • Training: Training would be made available to all managers, supervisors, union delegates, and lead workers. Training would include the effects of drugs and alcohol in the workplace, behavioral symptoms of being affected by substances, and available rehabilitation services.

Union Delegates – UW proposed increasing the number of Professional/Technical bargaining unit delegates from five to six. UW also proposed that the union send an up-to-date list of union delegates to the Labor Relations office quarterly, rather than annually.

Delegate Training Hours – UW proposed increasing the number of Professional/Technical bargaining unit employees eligible for paid release time to participate in union-sponsored delegate training from two to three.

Contract Distribution – UW proposed that the parties utilize the electronic version of the contract rather than printing paper copies, in line with the majority of UW’s union contracts. UW would provide all employees with a link to the contract, and each department would maintain a paper copy accessible to all employees.

Bargaining Unit Classifications – UW proposed language updates to reflect the incorporation of cardiac and vascular sonographers into the Professional/Technical bargaining unit. UW also proposed language updates to acknowledge that SEIU 1199 now represents per diem nurses.

Trial Service Period – UW proposed revised language to memorialize a six month trial service period for permanent employees who are promoted, voluntarily demoted, or transfer into a job class for which they previously have not attained permanent status. The same would apply to employees who move into a position that requires different job skills and abilities. The trial service period would not exceed 12 months.

Employees could voluntarily revert to their former permanent position within 15 days of the appointment, provided that the position had not already been filled or offered, and reversion of employees who are unsuccessful during their trial service period would not be subject to grievance.

Work Day – UW proposed language to memorialize the parties’ existing agreement on rest breaks, establishing that a nurse who does not receive a rest period after informing management will be compensated at the appropriate rate of pay for each missed rest period.

Overtime – UW proposed that overtime be calculated based on time actually worked, rather than time paid but not worked such as vacation leave, compensatory time, and personal holiday.

Rest Between Shifts – UW proposed standardizing the rest between shifts practice for nurses to align with that of social workers, healthcare specialists, and electroneurodiagnostic (END) technologists. As proposed, nurses would receive the rest between shifts premium pay for time worked within their scheduled rest period.

UW proposed clarifying that rest between shifts premium will not be triggered by time spent in continuing education, committee meetings, staff meetings, or time spent on standby and callback assignments.

Elective Educational and Professional Leave Use – UW proposed a requirement that mandatory education be completed prior to approval of elective education.

Educational Leave for Cardiac and Vascular Sonographers – UW proposed language to memorialize the parties’ existing agreement, establishing that cardiac and vascular sonographers with their license in good standing will receive 24 to 40 hours per fiscal year of elective educational and professional leave upon request.

Education Support Funds – UW proposed that cardiac and vascular sonographers receive $500 per year, prorated according to FTE (full-time equivalent).

Call Back – UW proposed clarifying that the two and one-half hours of guaranteed premium pay for employees called back, from standby or not, only applies once during the same two and one-half hour period of time. UW proposed that the minimum callback hours not apply for employees who are called in from standby prior to their scheduled shift and continue working into their scheduled shift.

Modality Pay – UW proposed language to clarify that cardiac and vascular sonographers are not eligible for modality pay.

Payroll Errors – UW proposed language updates regarding the correction of payroll errors to reflect limitations of the payroll system, while acknowledging that payroll errors will be corrected as soon as possible.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – UW proposed that for leave under FMLA, employees must use a portion of their accrued paid leave, but may retain 80 hours of accrued vacation leave.

Faith/Conscience Day — UW proposed language to codify WAC 82-56, whereby leave without pay would be granted for up to two workdays per calendar year for reason of faith or conscience. Such requests may only be denied if the employee’s absence would create undue hardship (per WAC 82-56) or the employee is necessary to maintain public safety.

Committee Work – UW proposed language establishing that time spent on committee work will not be counted toward the calculation of overtime.

Cardiac and Vascular Sonographer Committees – UW proposed that committee membership for cardiac and vascular sonographers consist of one representative from each of the three working areas plus one union representative, as well as up to three management representatives plus one from the Labor Relations office.

Corrective Action: Informal Counseling – UW proposed that union involvement at Step A of the corrective action process be optional (per the employee) rather that mandatory, noting that most unions at UW do not involve the union at the level of informal counseling. UW proposed language clarifying that a supervisor may follow up on an informal counseling in writing, which could include a simple action plan.

Corrective Action: Grievability – UW proposed that Step B corrective action be grievable only through the second step of the grievance procedure, noting that such formal counseling rarely if ever goes past mediation, and that this is common practice in several other UW contracts.

UW proposed that Step C or higher begin at the second step of the grievance procedure, and be submitted to a level of supervision that has authority to act.

Dismissal – UW proposed language consistent with other UW contracts in an attempt to better capture current practices. The language spelled out an employee’s right to a pre-determination meeting prior to dismissal, in which they could make their case with the union present. The employee would be provided the reasons for dismissal and any referenced documentation at least five days before the meeting, and would receive written notification of the outcome of the pre-determination hearing.

Layoff – UW proposed language updates to establish a clear process in the event of a layoff, spelling out an ordered list of distinct employment options for employees subject to layoff.

Job Posting and Transfer – UW proposed updates to language referencing outdated job application mechanisms, instead referring employees to the University’s employment website.

Arbitrator Selection – UW proposed language adopted from other UW contracts, whereby the parties would utilize a permanent panel of 10 arbitrators on a rotating basis.

“Retention of Benefits” Language – UW proposed the deletion of Article 28 (“Retention of Benefits”). UW explained that this provision appears to address the changes resulting from civil service reform over 10 years ago, and was to ensure that contractual benefits were not compromised at the time of that transition.

Health Insurance and Pension – UW proposed that the parties update the health care benefits provision according to what is determined at the Washington State union health care coalition.

Duration – UW proposed a two-year contract duration, to expire on June 30, 2017.

Job Titles and Classifications – UW proposed several updates and additions to the job classifications listed in Appendix I.

Layoff Units – UW proposed several updates to outdated language in the layoff units detailed in Appendix XII.

Memoranda of Understanding – UW proposed deleting the parties’ existing memoranda of understanding, explaining that most of them were time-specific and are now outdated.

Sheet

UW again delivered a sign-in sheet for both bargaining teams to sign, in order to help facilitate payment of release time to employees. For the fifth consecutive session, SEIU 1199 declined to utilize a sign-in sheet.

Next Steps

The next UW-SEIU 1199 bargaining session is scheduled for May 20.