Greetings, Nurses of Ocean Beach
Spring has sprung, and you have elected new Local Unit Officers!
Your New Officers are:
Mary Sutton, Chair
Denise Ross, Vice-Chair
Marcey Frame, Secretary
Brad Bell, Treasurer
Kathy Nurkowski, Grievance Officer
We at WSNA want to be available and visible to you in 2012, and we are planning more drop-in meetings to make that happen. When meetings occur, come and talk to us about anything you want to know about related to your contract or your working conditions. We will be there to listen to your concerns and answer your questions. What do you want us to bring up at the Conference Committee? We welcome your ideas! A Nurse Practice/Staffing Committee has been established for some time, and we would like to see a Conference Committee happen regularly, too. Management has agreed to meet with us once a month, on the fourth Thursday of the month. All of your Local Unit officers will attend, as often as they are available. We want to bring up issues you feel are most important to you, so that WSNA and the management team can work on them collaboratively. Let your Officers know what your issues are!
What is a “Culture of Safety”
A “Culture of Safety” in the workplace exists when you are treated fairly and given the “benefit of the doubt” if you make a mistake. You are innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around. A “just culture” workplace employs progressive discipline, and carefully considers the circumstances of a nursing error—was there evidence that the nurse engaged in risky behavior, was he/she careless or neglectful, or was there disregard of a policy that was known? More often than not, the answer is “no”. Errors occur because we are human, and they are often caused by a faulty system. Statistically, up to 95% of all errors on the job are caused by system failures, and a “just culture” looks at how systems can be improved, not how people should be penalized. There is no evidence that penalizing individuals who make honest mistakes ever leads to a reduction in human errors. Patterns of careless, neglectful, or risky behavior are a concern, but making an honest mistake, or nearly making one, inevitably happens in a nurse’s career.
Let’s talk about “Investigatory Meetings.” Investigatory meetings are when you are asked to attend a meeting with your manager or director about any issue that you are involved in that could possibly lead to disciplinary action for you or someone else. This might include tardiness, overtime, patient complaints, peer complaints, etc. You can ask at the beginning of the meeting, “Is this a meeting that is disciplinary or that can lead to disciplinary action?” If they answer “Yes”, then you have the right to ask for representation. If they say “No” and indicate that you don’t need anyone, listen carefully to what is being discussed. If it starts to feel like it is an investigation, you still have the right to invoke your Weingarten rights.
WEINGARTEN RULES/RIGHTS – are a Supreme Court law decision, and the following steps apply:
Rule 1 - The employee must make a clear request for union representation before or during the interview. The employee cannot be punished for making this request. (Note: If you ask the employer, “do I need union representation?” The answer may be no. It is up to you to make the statement that you want union representation.) Remember, management is not an appropriate representative, so if they offer you the nursing supervisor or someone else to sit with you, that is not acceptable.
Rule 2 - After the employee makes the request, the employer must choose among three options. The employer must either:
- Grant the request and delay questioning until the union representative arrives and has a chance to consult privately with the employee; or
- Deny the request and end the interview immediately; or
- Give the employee a choice of: 1) having the interview without representation, or 2) ending the interview
Rule 3 - If the employer denies the request for union representation and continues to ask questions, they commit an unfair labor practice, and the employee has a right to refuse to answer. The employer may not discipline the employee for such a refusal. So ...if called into a meeting with management, read the following (or present the Weingarten card) to management when the meeting begins. "IF THIS DISCUSSION COULD LEAD TO MY BEING DISCIPLINED OR TERMINATED, OR AFFECT MY PERSONAL WORK RECORD, I RESPECTFULLY REQUEST THAT A UNION REPRESENTATIVE BE PRESENT. WITHOUT UNION REPRESENTATION DURING THIS MEETING, I CHOOSE NOT TO PARTICIPATE IN ANY DISCUSSION." Please contact one of your local unit officers if a situation arises where you think you might need to use your Weingarten rights, or contact your Nurse Representative.
Why do I need representation?
You need to take a representative from WSNA in for meetings that are disciplinary, or that could lead to discipline, because the rep will take notes of what you say and what your manager says, and will become a witness to the interaction. Usually these meetings are emotional for the RN involved. After walking out of the director or manager’s office, the affected RN often doesn’t remember what was really said, how it was said, or what he or she may have agreed to, etc. Having a note taker can prevent “He Said/She Said” situations, and offer an objective witness. The WSNA representative can also help you clarify and answer confusing questions; the best rule is ONLY ANSWER WHAT YOU HONESTLY REMEMBER, AND DO NOT ELABORATE OR HELP BY ADDING INFORMATION NOT REQUESTED. Just as in a court of law, it is acceptable to answer “I do not recall, or I do not know” if you are not really sure.