Negotiations Update (setting the record straight)
Posted May 31, 2017
Overlake has failed to tell you about several key issues at stake in negotiations that will affect us all tremendously. Most importantly, WSNA is fighting for safe staffing that allows you to take your meal and rest breaks, and is working hard to defeat management’s dangerous proposal that would require nurses to float house-wide. Management refuses to budge on these and other key issues and while we have made a few small agreements, we continue to be far apart on many items. Here are some of the issues WSNA is fighting for:
Staffing & Rest Break Relief: WSNA has proposed language that would require the Hospital to improve its staffing and ensure you are able to get your breaks by using a break relief nurse on each unit. A few units already use break nurses and other hospitals across the state have also begun to adopt it as well. Unsurprisingly, when nurses are actually relieved of duty to take a break, and when units are not chronically working short, nurses are able to get their breaks. But Overlake has refused to step up and offer to do anything about the staffing problem, instead insisting that it take only the minimal steps it is already required to take under state law. WSNA will continue to fight for your right to safe staffing and to be able to take the meal and rest breaks!
House-wide Floating: Management has proposed radically changing the floating language by requiring nurses to float house-wide, reflecting the mistaken belief that “a nurse is a nurse”. Any nurse would be required to go to any unit at any time and could be forced to take an assignment. This is not safe. Even worse, the language could leave nurses open to discipline for mistakes in caring for patients that they are not properly trained for if the nurse had not notified the charge nurse, shifting all the risks and responsibilities of management’s dangerous house-wide floating proposal onto YOU.
Cutting Your PTO in Half: Management is insisting on cutting your PTO bank maximum in half, from two to one year of accumulated PTO. What does this mean to you? If you currently earn 200 hours per year, you can currently bank 400 hours but management’s proposal would mean you can only bank 200 hours. That is only 5 weeks! What if you are out caring for a loved one, or have a baby, or need surgery requiring time off of up to 12 weeks and you only have 5 weeks of PTO to keep money rolling in? WSNA is fighting hard against this huge takeaway.
Fair Share Union Membership: Management knows that when we speak with a strong, united voice, we win. That’s why they have adamantly refused to consider WSNA’s proposal that all newly hired nurses be given the choice to either join as a full-fledged voting member or pay a reduced “fair share” fee. This would not affect nurses already at Overlake and would not cost a penny, but it would create a more active and engaged membership, strengthening our collective voice. Most every other hospital in the state already has “fair share membership” but Overlake has adamantly maintained its extreme anti-union stance.
Fairness for Per Diems: Management continues to take a hardline on two key issue for per diems. First, it refuses to extend “just cause” protection to per diems, insisting on retaining the right to fire an on-call nurse at any time and for any reason without any justification at all. That’s not fair and WSNA continues to fight for per diem nurses to be treated fairly. Second, management wants to restrict per diem RNs to scheduling themselves only for “posted shifts”, which in many cases will mean 12-hour shifts only, leaving many per diems who can only work 8-hour shifts with no options.
Call to Action! We are asking all RNs join us on June 15th from 3:30-5:30pm on the I-405 overpass behind the Hospital. We will be holding banners to inform the public about the necessity of safe staffing and asking for support of our RNs during negotiations. There may be additional actions planned in the event we do not reach an agreement at our next bargaining session on June 5th so stay tuned. Log on to our Facebook page at to stay informed. We must remain united to fight for a fair contract!