Open Letter to the WSNA Bargaining Unit
Posted November 16, 2015
Negotiations for your next contract have been challenging because Kadlec, with participation of Providence, has come to the bargaining table with unjustified and disrespectful HUGE takeaways. You have asked for more information and we are anxious to provide you with more.
Finally on November 11th, the Management Team led by your Chief Nursing Officer Kirk Harper have finally admitted to the following.
The value of the PTO takeaways and EIB elimination is over $1 MILLION per year from you the Registered Nurses. This is a $3 Million dollar loss over the life of the contract to you who give so much every single day. We invite you to take that loss out to 5 years, 10 years and more. This is why you and your team are fighting back! You deserve respect not disrespect.
When your Team stood together and said this is UNFAIR – CNO Harper and his team then said if you don’t take the $1 Million per year in losses then we’ll get that money out of you in another way. Harper’s alternative proposal is that if you don’t let us take your PTO and EIB we’ll put you into an insurance pool by yourself and jack up your insurance rates. WSNA has filed an Unfair Labor Practice with the National Labor Relations Board over this draconian, disrespectful, and unfair bargaining posture.
This hospital is self-insured. Premium rates are set by Kadlec. They don’t have to negotiate rates with a third party. All the money in rates goes to Kadlec.
The hospital Team has argued that Short Term Disability Insurance makes up for loss of EIB. Your Team disagree for the following reasons.
- You qualify for STD benefits only if you are seriously ill or injured. EIB covers you and family during illnesses. Sadly, many of your colleagues have used and relied on their EIB for long-term illnesses because of personal illness. Many have used EIB to care for a close member of their family such a spouse or child who became critically ill and disabled and needed their mother or father home caring for them. Because of EIB they had that ability while getting paid. With STD they would not have had this ability. Federal and state legislation protects your job; EIB protects your financial needs.
- STD can be purchased by you at very reasonable rates by outside providers. When you pay for your own STD, payments made to you under the plan are not taxable. When the insurance is provided by Kadlec, all payments are taxable as income and pays only 60% of your income.
- Kadlec wants a company called Sedgwick to administer this STD plan. We urge you to research Sedgwick on the internet. See the consumer reviews about Sedgwick’s reputation. Watch the YouTube videos. When benefits are wrongly denied – your income is critical to you and your family’s well-being. Using your PTO and EIB are yours and you should not ever be forced to ask for a third party approval.
Finally with regard to benefits, please know that your team has reviewed the medical benefit plan and we have told CNO Harper and his team that we’ll take the new medical benefit plan. It is substantially the same as the current plan. We told them we are prepared to agree to the benefits plan offered - the same plan as the rest of the hospital using the same rates, etc. We have told them to decouple the benefits with the PTO and EIB million dollar takeaways to enable you to get these benefits and rates. They have refused to do this. Still we are encouraging everyone to sign-up for benefits as you and your family need. Medical insurance coverage is essential for everyone. Negotiations will continue until this and other issues are resolved.
Maintenance of benefits: Because more people are insured and across the country health care costs are stabilizing (raising a fraction of what they were prior to the Affordable Health Care Act), your team proposed maintenance of benefits for a three year period; meaning that all your costs and benefits would remain the same for the duration of the contract. Kadlec said absolutely not – until they came up with their alternate benefit proposal with substantial increases to your premiums. Still their 7% “maintenance of benefits” proposal is far from meaningful and is rife with possible increases to you as it is based on a “blended average” meaning one portion of your costs, say premiums, could go up substantially greater than 7% if other costs remained neutral. A proposal cloaked in ambiguity and uncertainty. You can bet that this ambiguity puts your pocket book at risk.
Staffing – meal and rest breaks
We know many of you do not get your rest breaks or meal breaks. Ninety-five percent of you asked for us to fight for better and safer staffing at Kadlec. And we are doing as you said. As you know, adequate staffing means safe patient care, time to take care of yourself if you or a family member becomes sick, and time to take a vacation with your family.
You should be aware over 450 requests for PTO have been denied Registered Nurses over the life of the current contract. As admitted by management, MANY PTO requests have been denied because of INSUFFICIENT STAFFING. Astonishingly, according to the Chief Financial Officer Julie Meek “THERE IS NO STAFFING PROBLEM AT KADLEC.” This statement stunned everyone on the WSNA negotiation team and had to have equally stunned management. Nurse Managers at the table have to be fully aware of this, but understandably are not in a position to disagree with Meek.
Initially Kadlec’s approach was to attempt to shove the staffing problem to the nurses: You the nurses figure it out! Management gets to staff (or not) as they want and you registered nurses figure out a way to get your breaks. Your meal and rest breaks are management’s responsibility by law. Your Team has said we need staffing sufficient to assure we get our needed and legally mandated rest and meal breaks. Your WSNA team has proposed minimum staffing ratios (nurse to patient ratios). The hospital has summarily rejected staffing ratios that assure safe staffing all of the time for patient safety and nurse well-being.
Other Important Issues
Overtime after 36 hours for 12 hour shift nurses: 12 hour shifts are important for nurses and Kadlec. Why should these nurses have to wait until they complete 40 hours per week to get overtime? Your Team says they shouldn’t! Kadlec says they should. Equally, these nurses should not have to work over 13 hours before getting paid overtime wages. If your shift is 12 hours, anything past 12 hours should be compensated. Kadlec disagrees.
Successorship: WSNA has proposed that should Kadlec be sold to another entity, as a condition of sale, any purchaser shall honor your contract. This proposal costs nothing to Kadlec. They say “no” rather than protecting you in a transition such as change of ownership and giving you the peace of mind of a smooth transition where the terms and conditions of your contract would not change. Kadlec would rather subject you to the whims of the purchaser.
Why is this so important to you right now? This quote from Providence CEO Dr. Rod Hochman “There will never be more physicians and nurses than there are today, and healthcare professionals will never be paid more than they are today.” “You better figure out how to design healthcare for people other than physicians and nurses.” If Providence continues to seek more control of Kadlec, what will your future be?
EIB donation for needy co-workers: WSNA has proposed that employees be able to donate EIB to fellow employees in need who have exhausted their PTO and EIB. Kadlec says “no” to helping your fellow workers and by the way adds, we want to eliminate your EIB all together.
Why Kadlec’s proposals are disrespectful and not based on any need of the Hospital.
- There is a well-documented nursing shortage that is expected to get worse. It makes no sense to position the hospital to be less competitive as a prospective employer to experienced or new nurses. Our current nurses and patients already have staffing issues; we cannot afford negatively impact our ability to compete for nurses.
- Kadlec with the Providence affiliation has never been more financially wealthy. According to CEO Rand Wortman:
a. Kadlec should have $459 million in revenue in 2015.
b. Providence committed over $100 Million to Kadlec “right away “as follows:
- $72 million for tower construction
- $13 million for parking garage
- $4 million for rural offices
- $18 million to WSU
- $3 million to CBC
- $3-4 million towards the residency program
- $20 million for “other” projects
Providence also paid off a $200 million dollar bond Kadlec owed.
3. The most important reason is you: The Registered Nurses at Kadlec have been working harder than ever. We have more patients than ever. We have higher acuity patients than ever. We are expanding more than ever. Why does Kadlec want to make money off of us? With all the money they have been given, why in the world does Kadlec need or even want to take from you who give so much?
Members, the unity and solidarity you show going forward will be the factor that protects you, our patients, and our community from the overreaching antics of Kadlec. We all love our Community and we are fighting to make Kadlec focus on employees, our patients, and the Tri-cities Community. What they take from you, they take from the Community.
Thank you for your activism (400 at the rally and well over 2,000 signatures on the petition) and your determination to stand up for what you deserve! There is however, more for you to do. Be there for our next call to action to remind Kadlec management that you demand the respect that you deserve. We are WSNA strong and WSNA united!
Your Negotiating Team:
April Valdez- Cath Lab
Christine Schoengarth - OR
Gary Cook - ICU
Jenny Spaulding – 6RP
Josh Weston - Resource
Kellen Klein – 3OP
Kelsi Duncan - NICU
Martha Galvez – Birth Center
Narda Leeming - ICU
Raquel Johnson - PAU
Ryan McCauley - ICU
Tara Blair – Birth Center
Carmen Garrison, WSNA Nurse Rep
Laura Anderson, WSNA General Counsel