The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly changed the way we are all living our lives. We hope that you and your families are staying safe and healthy.

When the crisis first began to break out in Washington, your bargaining/​officer team deter­mined that we needed to shift our focus from the ongoing contract bargaining to the negoti­a­tion of a Memorandum of Agree­ment (MOA) for Super­visor unit nurses to address workplace safety and job protec­tions. There was urgency to our work because the County was setting up tents and providing COVID recovery and quaran­tine services. The County was in the process of initi­ating plans requiring nurses to staff these sites immedi­ately with no direc­tives, policies and proce­dures in place. The County had not devel­oped policies on admis­sion criteria, medica­tion manage­ment, security measures or plans to provide super­vi­sion or support staff on site.

Your team reached agree­ment yesterday with the County on the MOA linked at the bottom of the page. The agree­ment involves signif­i­cant compro­mise from each side. Under the agree­ment, the County will be able to redeploy nurses, either volun­tarily or invol­un­tarily, to COVID care sites. Nurses who indicate they cannot compe­tently perform a desig­nated nursing care role at a COVID Care Site with training and
orien­ta­tion will not be subject to invol­un­tary redeploy­ment but you may be redeployed to a HMAC/COOP role instead. In recog­ni­tion of the rapidly evolving staffing needs, the County will be able to make sched­uling changes (with as little as 3 days’ notice) in a manner we would not tolerate under normal circum­stances. We are obviously not operating under normal circum­stances.

In return, we have secured a 25% premium for any nurse who is assigned to work at a COVID care facility. This premium will be retroac­tive to the time nurses began working in these facil­i­ties. The premium will also apply to any Jail Health nurse who is assigned to a unit providing care for COVID patients We heard many of you who are working in COVID testing areas that you are disap­pointed that this premium does not apply to you. We also under­stand many, if not all of you are experi­encing a signif­i­cant increase in overtime. We attempted to negotiate this on your behalf until the end but were unable to obtain anything further. We do not believe this aligns with the principle of equity the County often discusses and we are disap­pointed. If you feel unsafe or unable to perform your job due to fatigue, please review the following infor­ma­tion. You may want to consider refusing further hours. https://​www​.wsna​.org/​n​e​w​s​/​2​0​2​0​/​n​u​r​s​e​s​-​f​a​c​i​n​g​-​a​b​n​o​r​m​a​l​l​y​-​d​a​n​g​e​r​o​u​s​-​p​a​t​i​e​n​t​-​c​a​r​e​-​a​ssignments. This link refers to lack of PPE but can also apply to a situa­tion where you are fatigued, inade­quately trained or confronted with some other dangerous situa­tion.

The MOA is a good faith effort to come to an agree­ment, but we expect that problems may arise as the County unveils this massive project in a very short period of time. The MOA requires the parties to meet weekly to problem solve as issues develop. We encourage all nurses to contact your WSNA Nurse Rep, Sara Frey, as problems arise at sfrey@wsna.org. Your Nurse Rep will be happy to advise you about your rights under the MOA.

In addition to the COVID MOA, your bargaining team has been working on a 1‑year interim contract with the County. We believe that the current crisis will prevent either side from devoting the time and thought that contract negoti­a­tions deserve. The County has proposed a 1.5% raise retroac­tive to January 1 and another 1.5% raise effec­tive July 1. Your team believes that the County’s 2020 wage proposal is fair in light of the current economic circum­stances. The 1‑year agree­ment will enable us to come back to the table in the Fall to continue making progress on all of our prior­i­ties.

Finally, we are extremely disap­pointed that the County appears to have forwarded the MOA to a group of super­vi­sors before the agree­ment was signed and before WSNA had an oppor­tu­nity to commu­ni­cate with its members. The county has shown disgraceful, disre­spectful, and under­handed behavior by doing this. We are asking that you contact Megan.Pedersen@kingcounty.gov and let her know that the county has acted in anything but good faith. We demand that the County work in collab­o­ra­tion with WSNA to resolve all concerns.