Labor Relations

WSNA – UW (Northwest) Negotiations Recap for June 9


This recap details the fifth 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.

Tentative Agreements

The parties tentatively agreed to the following:

Article 1 – Recognition

  • Housekeeping edits only

Article 3 – Association Representative

  • Increased the number of employees on paid release for CBA bargaining from six to eight

WSNA Counter Proposals

Per Diems – The Union maintained its proposal that per diems could opt out of benefits to receive a wage differential of 15%.

Probationary Period – The Union rejected the Employer’s proposal to extend the probationary period from 90 days to six months.

Seniority – The Union rejected the Employer’s proposal that leave without pay would not affect seniority for layoff.

Clinical Clusters – The Union rejected the Employer’s proposal for clusters, which would limit initial layoff and rehire options to positions within the cluster rather than the bargaining unit.

Layoff – The Union accepted the Employer’s proposal 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. The Union rejected the Employer’s proposal 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 Union agreed to change the order used to temporarily decrease staffing during low census periods, countering with their own proposed order. The parties are in agreement about cancelling agency nurses first, then travelers. Next in order, according to the Union’s proposal, would be to cancel overtime-incentive shifts, then overtime shifts, then incentive shifts. Then the employer would ask for low census volunteers; after which they would cancel per diem nurses, then part-time nurses working above their assigned FTE. The parties are in agreement that the final option would be to rotate through seniority, as is current practice. The Union accepted the Employer’s proposal to define primary care clinics and ambulatory specialty care clinics as two separate low census groups.

Reallocation – The Union proposed new language regarding reallocation, which they defined as redistributing nurse positions when there is an imbalance of staff on a unit. The language stated that the Employer would give at least 45 days’ notice before reallocating, and that the Employer would post the jobs for any unit being created or restructured. Nurses could then submit bids during a ten-day bidding period, after which the Employer would assign shifts and schedule by seniority. Under this proposal, the Employer would submit the bidding forms to the Union, and there would be a 60-day waiting period before implementing the new schedule.

Staffing Plan – The Union maintained its proposal that the staffing plan would refrain, except in emergency circumstance, from assigning nurses to provide care to more patients than anticipated by the agreed staffing matrix, and from assigning patient care to Charge Nurses.

Staffing Concerns – The Union maintained its proposal that a nurse would be able to report to the staffing committee any variations where the nursing personnel assignment in a patient care unit is not in accordance with the adopted staffing plan. In addition, the nurse would be able to make a complaint to the staffing committee based on the variations, or based on adjustments in staffing levels made according to the requirements of the staffing plan.

Staffing Grievances – The Union maintained its proposal that though the content of staffing plans would still not be subject to the grievance procedure, the above proposals regarding staffing would be subject to the grievance procedure, as would unsafe working conditions related to staffing levels.

Workplace Violence – The Union accepted the Employer’s language describing the Workplace Violence Prevention Committee, but reasserted all of its initial proposal regarding workplace violence. The previous proposal includes security personnel posted at the rooms of all patients that demonstrate a potential risk, two RNs participating in the safety committee, and all nurses subject to workplace violence would be provided paid time off with full benefits and benefit accrual until fully recovered, reduced by payments from worker’s compensation and disability benefits.

Parking – The Union rejected the Employer’s proposal 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. The Union also maintained its proposal that the Employer would be obligated to bargain with the union regarding changes in transportation policy, including adjusting parking fees and criteria for assigning parking spots during the life of the contract.

Definition of Regular Rate of Pay – The Union accepted the Employer’s proposed language clarifying the definition of regular rate of pay. The language states 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 Union accepted the Employer’s proposal 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.

UW Economic Presentation

Staff Salary Study – UW HR Compensation presented an analysis of how the compensation for the RN2 benchmark job classification compares to market. The analysis is based on salary data (actual data) from the published 2021 NW Healthcare Milliman survey and can be found here.

UW Economic Proposals

The Employer presented a package proposal in which all provisions would need to be accepted in their entirety.  The package included previous proposals involving floating, scheduling, weekends, rest between shifts, and per diem nurses. Within the package, the Employer also reasserted its strike of the zipper clause, which would prevent the contract from being opened during the life of the agreement. The package also contained the following new proposals:

Wages – The Employer proposed to increase wages across-the-board by 1% on July 1, 2021 and another 1% on July 1, 2022.

Recruitment and Retention Increase – The Employer proposed to align the wage scales with the wages scales UWMC – Montlake. The alignment would include the proposal put forth to WSNA at the Montlake table, which was to increase Montlake wage scales by 3%. Under the Employer’s proposal for Northwest, any step on the wage scale that was above the 3% increase at Montlake would remain the same, but any other step would increase to match Montlake. By the Employer’s calculation, this alignment would result in 70% of Northwest nurses receiving a pay increase that is 3% or more than their current wage. The remaining 30% would either receive an increase that is lower than 3%, or would receive no increase. The RN 3 scale would be amended to reflect 8% above the RN 2 scale at each step of the wage scale. Charge Nurse would remain $2.50 above each step on the RN 2, scale and Float Nurse will remain $5.00 above each step on the RN 2 scale.

Next Steps

The next UW and WSNA bargaining session is scheduled for June 15 and will be held virtually.