At the onset of the COVID crisis everyone was fearful the pandemic would cause hospitals to overflow with patients, nurses would be working huge amounts of overtime, and there would be a need to float nurses between facilities. WSNA moved swiftly and successfully negotiated an agreement with MultiCare to protect nurses in those situations as well as nurses that were at high risk due to age or underlying health conditions as is reflected in our first MultiCare COVID related Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)
Our next surprise was that MultiCare was not providing adequate PPE. At that time, after giving the matter a great deal of consideration, WSNA filed a complaint with the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) of Labor and Industries (L&I). That investigation is currently in process.
Next, we learned there was a PPE shortage nationwide and MultiCare was rationing PPE. Mask distribution became controlled by management with little transparency of the supply. Nurses are being forced to wear PPE that was intended for one-time use, repeatedly until broken, soiled or for an entire shift. This was added to our DOSH complaint.
Recently MultiCare sent out notification they would be offering voluntary furloughs. WSNA along with SEIU and UFCW joined together to do what we could to improve the terms and conditions MultiCare was providing in the voluntary furlough offer. Together the unions bargained with MultiCare terms which include the following:
- Voluntary furloughs would be honored according to seniority.
- Nurses will not be required to be on standby while on furlough.
- Nurses may use PTO, take the time unpaid, or seek unemployment benefit insurance while on furlough.
- MultiCare will generally not contest unemployment claims.
- Nurses shall keep their seniority, anniversary date and be allowed to apply for jobs while on furlough.
- Medical benefits will be maintained during furlough.
- If a layoff should occur while the employee is on furlough, the employee status shall be determined as if the employee was in active status.
WSNA has been, and is continuing to work hard with the hospital, local, state, and federal leaders to try and rectify the PPE situation and to ensure this does not happen again in the future. We are also continuing to fight for hazard pay while nurses are not provided adequate PPE. If you have not signed the petition for Safe Working Conditions and Hazard Pay please follow this link and sign the petition now.
Contract Negotiations Update
Previously we announced that contract negotiations would be delayed due to the COVID-19 crisis. Recently WSNA proposed a 1‑year contract extension with a 4.5% wage increase to MultiCare Good Samaritan leadership so that nurses and management could focus on the COVID-19 crisis. MultiCare Good Samaritan rejected that proposal. As a result, we will be engaging MultiCare at the bargaining table in the near future. We will communicate bargaining dates once they are confirmed.
Please file an Assignment Despite Objection (ADO) Form when you have a staffing concern or a concern related to your working conditions. These forms are for any kind of concern from inadequate PPE, to staffing ratios and everything in between. These forms provide documentation of what is really happening. They are reviewed by the staffing committee, have been used in DOSH complaints, and are hugely important. They are electronic and easy to do: https://www.wsna.org/union/ado
For more COVID related resources follow this link: https://www.wsna.org/nursing-practice/COVID-19
Travis Elmore RN, BSN-RN-BC
WSNA Nurse Representative
Contact me at Telmore@WSNA.org or 206 – 575-7979 ext. 3117