Contract bargaining update

On Wednesday, we had our 7th bargaining session with Management to try to get a new contract. We were hopeful that we could reach an agreement by the end of the session. We bargained late and offered a comprehensive proposal that would have resolved all the issues. Unfortunately, Management did not accept the proposal.

We must say that we were disappointed by the lack of transparent dialogue during the negotiations. Throughout the negotiations, your WSNA team has been stressing the need for safe staffing and an economic package that will attract and retain nurses. We have proposed various forms of retention bonuses that would be paid to nurses if they committed to Evergreen for a certain period of time -- similar to what other hospitals have offered to retain their nursing staff. Management has rejected them all and failed to counter our last offer before ending negotiations this week.

When we asked the reason for the objection, we were told that Management did not want to create a scenario in which a nurse was staying at EvergreenHealth only so that they could receive or avoid repaying a bonus. Fair point, if it were true. When pressed, Management admitted that it has routinely offered hiring bonuses that are contingent upon the new hire staying for a period of time and that it has required nurses that have been accepted into residency programs to commit to stay at EvergreenHealth or be forced to repay training costs. We were insulted that Management would offer such a disingenuous reason, which was so easily refuted.

Management has consistently rejected our proposal that the first-year wage increase be retroactive to the expiration date of the contract. We told Management that we failed to see a good reason why nurses should not get the full value of the first-year wage increase. We were told that retroactive wage increases had not been given in the past. Aside from being not a particularly persuasive argument, this is revisionist history and easily refuted. EvergreenHealth has agreed in the past to retroactive wage increases.

We are at a loss as to why, now, after all we have been through during the last two years, Management is insisting that nurses not receive the full value of their first-year wage increase. Perhaps we would not need so many bargaining sessions if Management would engage us in a more transparent and respectful way. And, perhaps, we would not have to bargain so long if Management would not have pressed so many proposals that sought concessions from nurses who have given so much already, including:

*A proposal that would make it cheaper for them to work nurses without the required rest between shifts.

*A proposal that would allow them to interrupt meal periods without a penalty.

*A proposal that would replace the current sick and vacation program with an inadequate PTO/EIB program.

*A proposal that would allow Management to post positions with shifts of less than 8-hours, which would force nurses to work more days to realize benefits.

*A proposal that would extend nurses’ probationary periods during which Management could fire them without just cause.

We intend to attend the next Board of Directors meeting to make sure that EvergreenHealth does right by its nurses. We are in the process of scheduling another bargaining session, and we expect Management to provide a comprehensive proposal that works for its nurses to engage us in a more transparent fashion. We deserve nothing less.

Your bargaining team:
Alicia O’Neal – Hospice Center
Beth Volk – 7 Silver OSN
Holly Baker – ED – Local Unit Treasurer
Jamie Amick – PACU
Karen Lasota – Home Hospice
Lexi Overa – ED
Sandy Gott – FMC – Griev­ance Officer
Theresa Blazer – FMC – Local Unit Chair