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. Question – “For 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.