Your WSNA officers and nurse rep have been working around the clock to secure contract language that will help the WSNA nurses during this diffi­cult time. We are pleased to announce the negoti­a­tions for impacts bargaining around the Aug. 9 Gov. Inslee mandate are complete. To view the terms and condi­tions of the recently bargained MOU use the button below:

Q and A

1. Question Can WSNA ask Kadlec or HR to email the nurses that they have received our exemp­tion requests?”

  • HR has told us caregivers who request exemp­tions are provi­sion­ally approved and they can go back into the VAV tool to check the status of their requests. Right now, this is the only way to get updates on the status of your exemp­tion application.

2. Question – I have not turned mine in yet because I have a HUGE problem signing the state­ment that says I can cause death to my family, coworkers, and patients. Is there a way we can print the form and cross through that line before turning it in.”

  • We have been told you can submit additional infor­ma­tion by attaching a PDF to your appli­ca­tion. If you don’t agree with the attes­ta­tion state­ments at the bottom of the form, be sure to indicate this somewhere on the form so your voice is documented. We do not agree with the attes­ta­tion language at the bottom of the form especially the section requiring nurses to attest to several state­ments and to acknowl­edge that they may be required to complete an educa­tional module as part of the exemp­tion process.” We feel the bullet points at the bottom are invasive and discrim­i­na­tory and may actually create a barrier to someone seeking an exemp­tion which is their statu­tory right. WSNA has filed an Associ­a­tion Group Griev­ance over this language, and we plan to pursue it vigorously.

3. Question I am strug­gling with the state­ment saying I will cause harm to my family, others etc. If I acknowl­edge this, could I be held liable finan­cially, or my license be in jeopardy if Provi­dence decides to place blame for infec­tions on unvac­ci­nated nurses?”

  • Due to the legal nature of this state­ment, we do recom­mend seeking outside council for specifics to this question.

4. QuestionFor the nurses who have already filled out the form, how does the griev­ance help protect them?”

  • We will be asking the employer to remove the attes­ta­tion language at the bottom of the form for anyone who has filled out the form already, and for those nurses going forward.

5. Question Are we still required to sign the form? How do we know the legal repercussions?”

  • You will still need to sign the form if you want your exemp­tion appli­ca­tion to be received by Provi­dence. However, we do recom­mend you submit additional infor­ma­tion indicating your feelings and rejec­tion thereof about the language. (See #2 above). Techni­cally, nurses may use the electronic form, and this is Providence’s request, however you may also initiate the declination/​accommodation process by other means.

6. Question There have been emails from Nurse Managers to staff expressing how angry they are for nurses filling out a decli­na­tion, is that something that the union would want to know? Can we file a griev­ance over this?

  • We believe this is intim­i­da­tion. We would recom­mend calling the integrity line. Because we do have an Associ­a­tion Group Griev­ance filed over the attes­ta­tion language in the decli­na­tion form, we do want to know about these types of situa­tions happening. This treat­ment is not okay. Contact Nurse Rep Laurie Robinson.

7. Question When do you antic­i­pate finding out an answer about the pending grievance?”

  • The griev­ance process is an effec­tive process, but it can take some time. To give you an idea, the steps and timelines are outlined in Article 17 of the contract. We will do every­thing we can to make sure the process is fair and nondis­crim­i­na­tory for those nurses seeking an exemption.

8. Question Are you addressing this in the flu vacci­na­tion decli­na­tion as well?”

  • Due to the nature of the language, we will be asking for any infor­ma­tion that does not pertain specif­i­cally to medical or religious exemp­tions be removed from any and all vacci­na­tion exemp­tion forms immedi­ately and moving forward.

9. Question Does Presi­dent Biden’s new mandate affect the exemp­tions in place at Kadlec?”

  • No, it does not. Gov. Inslee’s mandate was imple­mented prior to Pres. Biden’s mandate which essen­tially carries the same meaning. According to the U.S. EEOC (Equal Employ­ment Oppor­tu­nity Commis­sion) an employee can seek a workplace exemp­tion for the vaccine for medical and religious purposes.

10. Question It seems as though the new mandates don’t allow for an exemp­tion. Is this correct?”

  • No. The new mandate allows for quali­fied religious and medical exemptions.

11. Question Is there a timeline on when caregivers should expect to hear back on the status of their exemp­tion request being accepted or denied?”

  • HR has told us they don’t have a specific timeline on when exemp­tions will be approved or denied.

12. Question IS the vaccine exemp­tion form something that Kadlec came up with or is it the state’s version of the required form?”

  • The electronic form nurses are being asked to fill out was created and imple­mented by Providence.

13. Question With the provi­sional approval, and say Provi­dence comes back and says now you are denied… will they give any amount of notice, or will it be the day of, and then we are taken off the schedule?”

  • At this time, HR has told us they do not have a timeline as to when appli­ca­tions will be approved or denied, so we don’t know when this will occur. The recent Vaccine Mandate MOU which we bargained does secure options for you in the event you are in this situa­tion. If you choose to then become vacci­nated and begin your series, you will have additional time beyond Oct 18 to complete the process. (See MOU using the link above)

14. Question The MOU says I will be volun­tarily separated. I don’t like this. I feel like now I won’t get unemploy­ment. If I was termi­nated, I could get unemployment!”

  • Not neces­sarily. When an employee’s separa­tion is the result of failure to comply with an employer’s require­ment to become vacci­nated, the Employ­ment Security Depart­ment will examine a number of factors. These factors may include when the employer adopted the require­ment, whether the employee is other­wise eligible for benefits, the specific terms of the vaccine policy including allow­able exemp­tions, and the reason why the employee did not comply with the vaccine require­ment. For example, if the employee does not qualify for an exemp­tion and does not comply with the vaccine require­ment, a claim would likely be denied. However, some individ­uals may still qualify based on their own unique circum­stances. ESD will evaluate each case on its own merit.

WSNA very much respects each member’s personal decisions when it comes to their individual health. Governor Inslee’s procla­ma­tion is not optional for the employers bound by it – it has the force and effect of a law. WSNA has always followed the science that has guided public health policy – for example, we have supported masking and distancing mandates issued by the CDC.

WSNA supports science-based public health direc­tives on COVID-19 and believe vacci­na­tion is the best way to save the lives of patients, family members and members of our commu­ni­ties. At the same time, we fully expect employers to bargain with us over the effects of the mandate and changes to working conditions.

We are facing an extra­or­di­nary staffing crisis in our hospi­tals and continue to advocate for reason­able deadlines and options for frequent testing as well as masking, as required in all health care facil­i­ties, for those who are unvac­ci­nated. These provi­sions mirror those included in mandates in other states that allow health care workers to stay on the job caring for all of us through this ongoing crisis. In addition, WSNA is working hard to protect any poten­tial negative impact to the nurse’s licen­sure. WSNA strongly believes that a nurse’s decision not to get vacci­nated, in and of itself, should have no effect on the nurse’s credential.

Questions? Contact a local unit officer or Laurie Robinson, RN or submit any additional questions to lrobinson@wsna.org.