The Washington State Nurses Association on Aug. 20 filed an unfair labor practice against PeaceHealth because of it’s “unilateral decision” to place workers who received a medical or religious exemption on leave without bargaining with the union, said Ruth Schubert, association spokesperson.
The association represents nurses at PeaceHealth’s five Washington hospitals. Under federal labor law, PeaceHealth is required to negotiate with the union over its individual vaccine mandate, Schubert said.
PeaceHealth initially sat down with the union to negotiate, but stopped responding and imposed its own deadlines and terms for dealing with nurses who qualified for an exemption, she said.
“Unlike any other hospitals of which we are aware and which allow exempted nurses who seek accommodations to continue to work at the bedside with appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment), PeaceHealth has unlawfully placed exempted nurses on unpaid leaves of absence effective Sept. 1,” Schubert said in an email. “Given how critical the nursing shortage is already, nurses are deeply concerned about what this unlawful measure means for already depleted and critically understaffed nurses.”