Labor Relations

Negotiations Recap for May 16, 2016

This recap summarizes the 12th session between the UW and SEIU 925 to incorporate UWMC physical therapists into the SEIU 925-UW collective bargaining agreement. This was the first session to be facilitated by a State-appointed mediator.


The parties were joined by a mediator from the Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) to help facilitate negotiations. UW expanded its proposed wage increases, and proposed relying on key metrics to determine staffing, in order to safeguard against subjective or arbitrary scheduling decisions. UW also proposed further increases to education funding, including temporarily grandfathering in an increased amount for certain clinic physical therapists.

UW Proposals

Pay Range Placements – UW proposed increases to its previous position, proposing to move physical therapists to SEIU 925 pay tables at the following pay range placements:

  • Physical Therapist 1: BG 92.

  • Physical Therapist 2: BG 99.

  • Physical Therapist 3: BH 6.

  • Physical Therapist Specialist: BH 12.

Scheduling Weekend Work – UW proposed a patterned schedule for physical therapists working in hospital areas, composed of both fixed schedules (requiring a regular weekend shift) and rotating schedules dictated by staffing levels, as follows:

  • Ratio of Rotating to Fixed Shifts: At the time of each shift bid, UWMC would maintain a ratio of at least 1.75:1 for rotating to fixed shifts, intended to reflect the existing ratio.

  • Assigning Fixed Schedules: The fixed weekend schedules would first be offered to volunteers, following which, those remaining would be assigned according to departmental seniority.

  • Bidding Cycles: Physical therapists would bid for fixed/rotating schedules. The length of time to be bid would be four, six, eight, or 12 months, as determined by a vote of all physical therapists. Nobody would be required to work a fixed weekend schedule in consecutive rotations. UW proposed that a newly hired physical therapist must complete two years in a fixed weekend schedule before entering the rotating schedule.

  • Metrics-based Staffing: Current staffing levels and scheduling practices would not change if they allow patient care metrics to remain consistent. Management would evaluate the ratio of patients seen in the first 24 hours as well as patient volumes per day of the week.

    If fewer than 90 percent of patients are seen within the first 24 hours, or if volume increases by at least 7 percent on the days that directly impact physical therapist weekend work, management could adjust staffing levels accordingly to meet these needs.

Scheduling Pilot – UW maintained its proposed pilot, whereby two physical therapists who volunteered to work weekend schedules would be assigned nine-hour shifts, including one fixed weekend day. To maintain this schedule, these employees would need to meet productivity standards over a six-month period.

This pilot would run concurrent with the implementation of UW’s proposed weekend schedule, and would last for at least two years from the date of agreement.

Hiring Process – In response to SEIU 925’s proposal for the union to appoint members to into UW’s hiring process, UW proposed that the parties agree on two or three physical therapists to participate in physical therapist interviews (one per interview) in an informational and advisory capacity.

Weekend Differential Increases – UW put forth additional increases to its proposed differentials for weekend hours worked. Physical therapists on rotating weekend schedules would receive $2.50 per hour and physical therapists on fixed weekend schedules would receive $3.00 per hour.

Certification Premium – UW maintained its proposed certification pay premium of $1 per hour for every hour worked by physical therapists who have submitted documentation of qualifying certifications (on which the parties have reached conceptual agreement).

Float Pool Differential – UW maintained its proposed premium of $1.50 per hour for all permanent physical therapists assigned to the PT Float Pool (on which the parties have reached conceptual agreement).

Education Support Funds – UW proposed further expansions to funding amounts for education and training expenses, as follows:

  • Patient Care Services (Hospital) Physical Therapists: Up to $500 per year, prorated per full-time equivalent (FTE).

  • Ambulatory Care Division (Clinic) Physical Therapists: Up to $1,500 for physical therapists hired in the Ambulatory Care Division prior to the effective date of the agreement, and up to $500 per year for those after the effective date (all prorated per FTE).

    These amounts would apply from the effective date of the agreement until June 30, 2019, with a long term goal of working toward more uniformity among work sites.

Paid Education Leave – UW maintained its proposal for physical therapists to qualify for three days of paid educational leave per year (prorated per FTE). Physical therapists who attend approved educational opportunities on a day they are not scheduled to work would receive the equivalent of a day of pay or a day of accrued leave. This compensatory day would count toward the three days of annual education leave.

Vacation – UW proposed language delineating that up to three physical therapists may utilize vacation time on a given weekday, and one on a weekend day, with additional approval whenever coverage allows. UW clarified that management would try to exceed this baseline when coverage is possible.

Holidays – UW proposed language noting that UWMC holiday staffing is based on historical physical therapy census at the hospital. UW proposed gradually increasing the number of staff scheduled to work on a given holiday in response to the current and predicted needs of the hospital, such that five would be scheduled per holiday in 2016, nine in 2017, and 15 in 2018. The required number of staff would be lowered when possible based on hospital volume.

Joint Labor-Management – UW maintained its proposal for the parties to establish a union-management meeting to monitor scheduling, staffing, productivity, and other issues of concern. UW agreed to increase the frequency of the initial meetings to monthly and clarified that the committee may meet regarding Patient Care Services, Ambulatory Care Division, or both.

Next Steps

The next UW-SEIU 925 bargaining session is currently being determined by the parties.