Labor Relations

Negotiations Recap for May 21, 2015

This recap details the third session for the renewal of the collective bargaining agreement between the UW and WSNA.

Compensation Discussion

Milliman Study – UW presented an analysis of how compensation for UWMC nurses compares to that of nurses in UWMC’s market of competing organizations, including Swedish, Valley, MultiCare, and Virginia Mason. The analysis was derived from a classified staff salary study conducted for UW HR by third-party compensation experts at Milliman in fall of 2014.

Philosophy – UW HR’s general compensation philosophy for the broader University is to pay at 80 percent of the market median, largely because UW’s robust benefits package exceeds the market. However, for nurses and other healthcare workers UW targets to pay at 90 percent of the market median. The market median, or “market,” for UW is the point at which half of UW’s comparators pay below UW and half pay above.

Findings – UWMC nurses are paid at 96.5 percent of the market. UW pointed out that this exceeds the target of paying at 90 percent of the market, and does not factor in UW’s above-market benefits such as healthcare and retirement.

UW Proposals

Association Membership – UW declined WSNA’s proposal to require all UWMC nurses to join the union as dues-paying members, in favor of maintaining current contract language.

Orientation – UW accepted WSNA’s proposal to increase the time guaranteed for the union’s new-hire orientation from 15 minutes to 30. To address WSNA’s concern that transferring nurses receive the same orientation as provided for new-hires, UW proposed broadening the nurse orientation language such that it would apply to new-hires and transfers. UW’s proposal would allow but not require nurses who have already completed new employee orientation to attend.

Probationary Period – UW accepted WSNA’s concept for nurses to receive an evaluation halfway through the probationary period, voicing support for doing so through existing mechanisms rather than the union’s stipulated written and verbal evaluations.

Wage Increases – UW put forth an initial wage proposal comprised of a 1 percent general wage increase effective July 1, 2015, and a 1 percent general wage increase effective July 1, 2016. UW declined WSNA’s proposal to add new steps 30, 31, and 32 to the top of the pay range.

Pay Premiums – UW responded to WSNA’s proposed expansions to several pay premiums and differentials, including:

  • Shift Premium: UW declined WSNA’s proposal to increase the second (evening) and third (night) shift differential by $0.25 per hour each, explaining that the current amount is competitive with the market.
  • Standby Premium: UW accepted WSNA’s proposal to increase the guaranteed minimum work period to three hours at a time and one-half rate to nurses when called in from standby.
  • Variable Standby Rate: UW declined WSNA’s proposal to increase the standby rate to $5 per hour after 20 standby hours in a week, as well as the proposal for standby pay to continue atop the time and one-half premium rate already awarded when nurses are called in from standby status. UW explained that it did not find this to be a common practice at comparable organizations.
  • Call Back Premium: UW accepted WSNA’s proposal to increase to three hours the minimum work period guaranteed at a time and one-half rate to nurses when called back.
  • Certification Premium: UW accepted WSNA’s proposal to increase the premium for eligible nurses certified in their area of specialty practice from $1 to $1.25 per hour.
  • ECLS Nurse Premium: UW maintained its proposal for nurses to receive $4 per hour for time designated as Extra-Corporeal Life Support (“ECLS”) nurses.
  • Resource Vascular Access Team Premium: In response to WSNA’s proposal, UW proposed that receive $2 per hour for time designated as Resource Vascular Access Team nurses.

Parking – UW declined WSNA’s proposal for UW to provide nurses with free parking in remote parking lots with free shuttle service to UWMC.

Leave Accruals – Due to payroll system limitations, UW declined WSNA’s proposal for nurse vacation and sick leave accrual to be determined by actual hours worked rather than a nurse’s scheduled FTE (full-time equivalent).

Vacation Leave – UW declined WSNA’s proposal for UW to grant vacation requests totaling at least 90 percent of the aggregate accrued annual leave of the bargaining unit for that calendar year. Instead, UW proposed language committing management to work with nurses who are unable to take their desired amount of vacation for the year to attempt to grant vacation requests during non-peak time periods.

Citing state payroll rules, UW declined WSNA’s proposal for nurses to receive a payout for accrued vacation hours in excess of 240 on their anniversary date, rather than losing such accruals.

Faith/Conscience Day – UW put forth amendments to its proposal to grant up to two workdays off per calendar year for reason of faith or conscience (per WAC 82-56), clarifying that requests for such leave will follow normal departmental leave request processes.

WSNA Proposals

Rosters – WSNA proposed adding employee shift, home phone, cell phone, and unit to the list of employee data that UW reports to the union on a monthly basis. UW explained that it is amenable to expanding reporting according to system capabilities, particularly once the UW transitions to a new HR/payroll system.

Successorship – WSNA proposed language detailing the role and rights of the union in the event that UW was to subcontract some of its operations to another party. WSNA’s language outlined notification requirements, and would provide that the new employer either assume the UWMC WSNA contract or alternately add equivalent wages and benefits.

Next Steps

The next UW-WSNA bargaining session is scheduled for June 4.