Labor Relations

WSNA – UW (Northwest) Negotiations Recap for April 8


This recap details the second virtual session for the renewal of the collective bargaining agreement between the UW and Washington State Nurses Association. Recaps are published online on the UW Labor Relations website.

UW Medicine Financial Presentation

Jacqueline Cabe, Chief Financial Officer for UW Medicine, delivered a presentation reviewing UW Medicine’s financial situation, summarizing COVID-19’s impact on the healthcare system, the effects of COVID relief funds, the current state of the budget and forecasts for the future.

The financial presentation is available online

UW Initial Proposals

Staff Development – The Employer proposed to increase the amount available to nurses per fiscal year for continuing education expenses from $200 to $250, with the maximum amount available $500, as opposed to the current maximum of $300. The Employer also proposed to decrease the amount of paid educational professional leave per fiscal year from 48 hours to 24. The 48 hours granted in the current contract is subject to budgetary considerations, scheduling requirements, and approval by the Employer, while the proposed 24 hours would be guaranteed to those who requested it. Under this proposal, an additional 16 hours would be granted, subject to budgetary considerations, scheduling requirements, and approval by the Employer. Additionally, the Employer proposed that time for continuing education would be considered as release from shift, not time worked beyond a shift.

Release for Negotiations – The Employer proposed language that would provide paid time or paid release time for up to eight total WSNA designated bargaining team members for up to eight hours per session (including caucus time) for up to eight sessions during negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement, rather than the current language, which provides for paid release for six bargaining team members for forty-eight hours for up to six sessions. Under this proposal, neither paid time nor paid release time would be considered as hours worked for the purposes of calculating overtime.

Probationary Period – The Employer proposed to change the probationary period from 90 days to six consecutive months. Under this proposal, paid or unpaid leave taken during the probationary period would extend the period for an amount of time equal to the leave on a day per day basis. The Employer further clarified that the probationary period could be extended up to an additional three months and that in no event would the probationary period exceed nine months. The Employer would notify any nurse subject to such an extension in writing of the extended end date of the nurse’s probationary period and provide the Association with documented reasons for any the extension. Additionally, the Employer clarified that the definitions of full-time and part-time nurses includes nurses serving their probationary period.

Temporary Assignment to a Higher Position – The Employer proposed that whenever a nurse is temporarily assigned in writing by the Employer to regularly perform the principal duties of a higher-level position for a period of five or more scheduled working days within the nurse’s standard work period, they would be paid a temporary hourly increase (THI) of at least five percent over the present salary but not to exceed the maximum of the range for the higher classification. Said increase would be paid beginning with the first day and to include the days working such assignment. Under this proposal, such assignments would only be by mutual agreement.

Trial Service – The Employer proposed new language defining trial service. Under this proposal, an employee serving a trial service period could voluntarily revert to their former permanent position within six weeks of the appointment, provided that the position has not been filled or an offer has not been made to an applicant. After six weeks, employees could revert to their former position with Employer approval. In the event the former position had been filled with a permanent employee, the employee would be placed on the rehire list.

Transfers – The Employer proposed new language that would align transfers with current UWMC practice. Under this proposal, nurses who are regularly assigned to a specific unit would be given preferential consideration for transfer to other shifts or positions in that unit before other nurses, except more senior nurses returning from layoff status to a previous unit and shift. Requests for transfer to another unit would be submitted in UWHIRES on-line and forwarded to the Nurse Manager for review prior to filling the vacant position through the transfer or promotional process. A good faith effort would be made to facilitate lateral transfers from one unit to another.

Reallocation – The Employer proposed new language defining a nurse’s progression start date in an instance of reclassification. The new date would be the first of the current month for effective dates falling between the first and fifteenth of the month and the first of the following month for effective dates falling between the sixteenth and the end of the month.

Job Postings – The Employer proposed language that would align the posting of new jobs with current UWMC practice. Under this proposal, when a job opening occurs on a unit, it would be posted on the unit for seven days per agreed upon unit procedures. After seven days, the position would be posted house-wide in addition to being posted externally.

Notice of Resignation – The Employer proposed to strike language stating that failure to give notice of resignation would result in loss of accrued annual time off, as this is not current practice. Although nurses are encouraged to give fourteen days’ notice in the event of resignation, accrued time off would be paid regardless of notification.

Layoff – The Employer proposed that leave without pay would not affect seniority for layoff, regardless of the length of the leave. The Employer further proposed that positions offered to nurses as layoff options would be positions with any FTE, rather than positions that are only within 0.2 FTE of the nurse’s current FTE. Additionally, the Employer proposed that all nurses on lay off would be paid accrued time off in one payment, striking language stating that nurse on layoff could request in writing that the payment for accrued time of be divided into two payments.

Low Census – The Employer proposed to change the order used to temporarily decrease staffing during low census periods. Under the new order, the employer would first cancel agency nurses, then travelers, then incentive shifts, then overtime shifts, then per diem nurses, then part-time nurses working above their assigned FTE. Then the employer would ask for low census volunteers; finally, the employer would rotate through seniority, as is current practice. Additionally, the Employer proposed language defining primary care clinics and ambulatory specialty care clinics as two separate low census groups.

Holidays – The Employer proposed language clarifying existing holiday practice for full time, part time, and night shift nurses at the UW. This language clarifies when nurses receive the holiday premium or holiday credit, relative to when the holiday falls and when their shifts are worked. This language further clarifies that holidays are prorated for part-time employees, and that the Employer may designate other days or shifts to be observed in lieu of the holidays listed in the agreement.

Holiday Credit – The Employer proposed language clarifying existing practice surrounding credit, stating that holiday credit is used and scheduled by the employee in the same manner as vacation leave. Additionally, all holiday credit must be used by June 30th of each year, and the employee’s holiday credit balance will be cashed out every June 30th or when the employee leaves University employment for any reason. According to this language, the employee’s holiday credit balance may be cashed out when the employee transfers to a position in their department with different funding sources or, transfers to a position in another department.

Time Off Donation – The Employer proposed language clarifying the shared leave policy to include vacation time off as well as sick time off.

Childcare Emergencies – The Union proposed unlimited use of vacation time off, sick time off, and unpaid time off for emergency childcare.

Leaves – The Employer made several proposals surrounding leave. For parental leave, leave due to family care emergencies, PFML, and FMLA, the Employer proposed clean-up language that would clarify conditions and benefits currently available to employees. Military leave (with or without pay), leave without pay for reason of faith or conscience, and leave of absence without pay are already available to nurses, but the Employer proposed to add language such that all leave policy is clearly contained within the CBA.

Bereavement – The Employer proposed that three days of bereavement would be granted for each death of a family member, as opposed to the current allowance of 24 hours.

Definition of Regular Rate of Pay – The Employer proposed language clarifying the definition of regular rate of pay, stating that regular rate of pay includes not only the nurse’s hourly wage rate, shift differentials and charge nurse pay, but all differentials and premiums as well.

Certification Pay Eligibility – The Employer proposed that all bargaining unit RNs who obtain and maintain a current, nationally recognized renewable certification in a specialty that is representative of the patient population to which they are primarily assigned, based upon management approved Nursing Specialty Certification List, would be eligible for certification pay.

Grievance Procedure – The Employer proposed to align the UWMC-Northwest grievance procedure with UWMC-Montlake. The most significant difference concerns adding a step for mediation, which either party may request. The alignment would allow more time to initially file a grievance and move it to arbitration. Additionally, the Employer proposed to establish a panel of arbitrators that would be used on a rotating basis in the event of arbitration, replacing the current practice described in the contract, which involves selecting arbitrators each time.

Union Dues – The Employer proposed a web-based system through which the Union would submit dues authorization, thereby eliminating manual entry.

Salary Overpayment Recovery – The UW proposed new language detailing the process for salary overpayment recovery in accordance with relevant state law.

Parking – The Employer proposed to strike language stating that On-call ICU, ER, CBC, Endoscopy, Diagnostic Imaging and Surgical Services nurses would be provided parking within close proximity to the hospital at no cost to the nurse, as this is not current practice.

Complete Understanding – The Employer proposed that they would not waive their right to bargain mandatory subjects of bargaining within the life of the contract.

The Employer proposed housekeeping edits only on the following provisions:

  • Article 1 – Recognition
  • Article 15 – Committees
  • MOU – Open Shifts
  • MOU – True Up Bonus/BSN Scholarship Program
  • Side Letter – UPASS

The Employer proposed to strike the following out-of-date MOU:

  • MOU – Retention Bonus
  • MOU – Dues Deduction
  • MOU – Addition of New Nurse Classifications
  • MOU – Seattle Sick and Safe

Next Steps

The next UW and WSNA bargaining session is scheduled for April 22 and will be held virtually.