Newsletter Summer 2019

Conference Committee update/
letter from chair

So what is Conference Committee? This is a committee that is attended by department managers and your local unit team members to discuss issues, problems and solutions throughout the hospital. This is a great place to talk about the issues that affect you every day. For example, there was an issue of inequitable low census in a couple of departments that your team brought up with management and it was discovered that contrary to contract language, there was no low census log being kept tracking low census hours. A log is the responsibility of management so that low census is distributed equitably among all nurses. After this discussion, the hospital indicated they would be implementing the log in accordance with the contract so that they would be complying.

Conference committee is the venue to discuss all manner of things which affect your working conditions. We will tackle issues such as protocols, processes, policies and equipment issues. We will hold the staffing committee accountable for reaching solutions to staffing issues. This committee is bound by the contract and reflects an agreement between management and you – the nurse at the bedside – to ensure that you have everything you need to take great care of the community you serve.

If you have ideas or concerns, please make sure you contact one of your local unit team officers to bring this to our attention. This way we can act quickly to address items and bring you an answer. Please take a moment and let HR and your CNO know that you would like to have the conference committee meeting minutes posted on the intranet for all to review as needed. It is in the best interest of all and in the spirit of transparency to have these available to all nurses.

Safe Staffing Committee Update

ADOs were reviewed. These are now being filed online with WSNA and forwarded to the committee chair and co-chair allowing for quicker response times. Other items discussed include: general staffing concerns, term lengths for committee members, and looking into the committee’s charter to ensure that Island Hospital is following state regulations. Because of the continued low census, the question of minimal staffing requirements in Acute Care was addressed pertaining to ensuring a complete code team is staffed per current hospital policy. This issue is being researched further and will be discussed again at the next meeting. The committee is attempting to meet the new state requirements and will be meeting every other month. Members can attend these meetings in person or via conference call.

Calling all Unit Reps!

What is a Unit Representative?

A unit rep is the contact person between your local elected union team and the co-workers on your unit. The unit rep ideally is the first person to meet and greet new hire nurses and extend a welcome on behalf of the nurses at your facility. The unit rep is in contact with the union team leaders and will be the communication liaison between the team and your co-workers. At times, the unit rep may be asked to share communications with co-workers, circulate flyers and/or petitions, report on the working conditions and relay important information between the team and your co-workers. The role involves little to no time away from work except to watch for emails but is a critical role in making sure the issues of YOUR unit are heard by all. We are powerful and strong together and together we can make a difference.

We are also looking for any interested person(s) to become membership officers. This would entail participating in new employee orientation (NEO) to meet with new hires about WSNA to help keep up active membership.

Grievance update

Holiday Agreement: Article 9, Section 7

A registered nurse designated to work on the observed holidays as stated in Article 9.7 shall receive one and one-half times the regular pay rate for all hours worked. On Christmas Day, the recognized hours are from December 24th / 3pm to December 25th / 11 pm. Recently, a grievance was filed because it was noted that, during the previous holiday season, Christmas holiday pay was limited to 3pm on the 25th instead of 11pm. WSNA will not accept nurses being denied their entitled paid hours. If you feel there is any discrepancy, not only on holidays, but during or related to any hours worked, we encourage you to contact your unit manager to evaluate and clarify the discrepancy. If no clear resolution is available or obtained, please notify your local WSNA officer. We want to ensure every nurse is compensated appropriately.

Save the date!

October 24, 2019 there will be a FREE conference to all nurses regarding Workplace Violence and Nurse Safety as well as information on the new Rest breaks Law that goes into effect January 1, 2020. There will also be an additional education offering on Safe Staffing including the role of the staffing committee and how to advocate for each other! Details are still being ironed out but associated CEU is planned at this time.

Save the date!

Your local team is strongly advocating for you to attend this. It will take place in Bellingham – we specifically requested a close location for all of us caring for the NW Washington community and will be pertinent to our hospital. Please plan on attending this event! Contact any member of your local team for details or email your WSNA nurse representative Sue Dunlap at SDunlap@wsna.org.

Survey preparation for contract negotiations

It's almost that time! 2019 is already half over and with 2020 around the corner you know what that means? Contract negotiations! Coming soon, a survey will be put out that we hope all nurses take the time to think about and participate in. It's so important because this survey will help guide your executive team during negotiations. Let us know what issues are most important to you and your coworkers.

Are we able to get in touch with you?

Do we have your current contact information? Please make sure your cell phone number and personal email is current with WSNA, as the communication via these avenues will be used more frequently in the near future. You don't want to miss out on important updates regarding our union.


Another way to stay connected is to join our private Facebook group “IH NURSES”. Though not our official communication tool it is a way for Island RNs to discuss WSNA matters. The group was formed during our last negotiation sessions and served as a wonderful way for the RNs to discuss the current issues affecting Island Nurses. Make sure to not only join the page but to request to be added to the “group” tab.

Online ADO

Not getting all of your breaks? Working short staffed or staying late? Feel like you are taking an unsafe patient assignment? Denied earned PTO?

Yes, there is something you can do about this. Fill out a Staffing Complaint / Assignment Despite Objection (ADO) form today. Did you know this can be done online and even from your phone? It's quick & simple.

Copies of the submitted online form will automatically be sent to you, your local unit chair, co/vice chair, staffing committee co-chairs, WSNA nurse rep and manager (if you designate).

You can find the online form here at wsna.org.

Notes from Nurse Representative Sue Dunlap

Just a quick note to introduce myself to all of you. I am so excited to be working with all of you and so thrilled to be with a unit that is so organized and cohesive. This is a testament to each one of you as members as well as the guidance and leadership of your local unit officers.

I have been a nurse for 35 years and have had the most incredible career spanning almost every area of specialty across Canada and the United States. I recently completed my master’s in nursing education but my passion at this juncture in my life is to pave the way and make things better for the nurses coming behind me. I have worked in leadership roles in the past including management and am a previous director. In my previous employment, I served as local unit chair, grievance officer, local unit rep, conference committee chair and co-chair of the staffing committee. While I may be new to Island Hospital as the nurse representative, I am not new to the northwest and my previous employment included working at Life flight out of Bellingham, the Navy Hospital in Oak Harbor, Mt Vernon and Sedro Woolley hospitals and also within the homecare community for Whatcom, Skagit and Island counties.

We face some difficult times in the world of healthcare but united we are strong. I am excited to advocate for all the nurses at Island and help make Island the best place to work and the best place to receive care. Please feel free to contact me directly at any time for any reason – I am here for each of YOU!

Sue Dunlap MSN, RN, COS-C
WSNA Nurse Representative