Kindred First Hill Newsletter - June 2019
Document unsafe conditions
If you find yourself in a situation that you believe creates unsafe conditions for patients or for yourself, such as being short staffed with nurses or CNAs, you should complete a Staffing Complaint Form/ADO as soon as possible. Best of all, the form is now readily available online! When you submit the form, a copy will go directly to your WSNA Nurse Rep, Terri Williams, MS, RN.
By completing the form, you will make the problem known to your Nurse Rep and your management, creating an opportunity for the problem to be addressed. Additionally, you will be documenting the facts, which may be helpful to you later if there is a negative outcome. Always make your Charge Nurse or Manager aware of the issue first. If it can’t be taken care of, fill out the Staffing Complaint Form/ADO.
WSNA also uses your Staffing Complaint Form/ADOs to track the problems occurring throughout your facility. When you and your coworkers take the important step of filling out the form, you are helping to identify whether there is a pattern of unsafe conditions for you or your patients at your facility. This information is used to improve your working conditions.
WSNA nurses have rights regarding representation! To understand your representation rights, you also need to know what an investigatory meeting is.
An investigatory meeting is when you are questioned by your manager or director about any issue that you are involved with that could possibly lead to disciplinary action. This can include tardiness, overtime, patient complaints, peer complaints, etc.
At the beginning of the meeting you should ask, “Could this meeting lead to disciplinary action?” If they answer “Yes” then you have the right to ask for representation. If they say “No” and indicate that you don’t need anyone, listen carefully to what is being discussed. If it starts to feel like it could lead to discipline, you have the right to invoke your Weingarten rights.
Under the Supreme Court’s Weingarten decision, when an investigatory meeting occurs, the following rules apply:
The employee must make a clear request for union representation before or during the interview. The employee cannot be punished for making this request. (Note: Do not ask the employer, “Do I need union representation?” It is up to you to make the statement that you want union representation. Remember, management is not an appropriate representative, so if they offer you the nursing supervisor or someone else to sit with you, that is not adequate.
- After you make the request for a Rep, the employer must choose among three options. The employer must either:
- Grant the request and delay questioning until the union representative arrives and has a chance to consult privately with the employee; or
- Deny the request and end the interview immediately; or
- Give the employee a choice of: 1) having the interview without representation, or 2) ending the interview.
- If the employer denies the request for union representation and continues to ask questions, this is an unfair labor practice and the employee has the right to refuse to answer. The employee cannot be disciplined for a refusal to answer questions without union representation.
If called into a meeting with management, you could read the following to management when the meeting begins:
Frequently asked questions
Why do I need representation?
You need to take a WSNA representative to a meeting that could lead to discipline because the WSNA representative will provide you with assistance and counsel. The representative will take detailed notes of what you say and what your manager says. Usually these meetings are emotional for the RN involved. After walking out of the director or manager’s office, often the RN doesn’t remember all that was said, how it was said, what was agreed to, etc. Having your WSNA representative present can prevent later disputes about exactly what was actually said in the meeting. The representative can also help you clarify confusing questions.
Who can represent me?
Contact WSNA Nurse Rep Terri Williams, MS, RN, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If they keep asking questions, can I leave?
No, stay at the meeting, but do not answer questions until your representative has a chance to arrive. Let them know, "I will listen but I'm going to withhold any comment until I can get a representative."
The Washington State Nurses Association (your Union) helps nurses reach their full professional potential. WSNA is firmly committed to the continued quality of nursing practice and education, and the professional development of registered nurses in today’s workplace.
Our staff includes RN experts in practice, policy and education to interpret the complexities of the Nurse Practice Act and assure the quality of nursing education. We represent your workplace and practice interests with the Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission and other state agencies, and we also provide input on proposals that affect your workplace safety and your practice.
Visit the WSNA Education calendar to see upcoming education events.
If you have any questions regarding the above information or about your contract, please contact:
Terri Williams, MS, RN
WSNA Nurse Representative