We have heard from you about your shock and dismay regarding the County’s proposal for a 5% premium for nurses providing COVID testing. We have also heard your disbelief at the County’s failure to provide any premium for nurses working on the COVID Strike Teams. Your bargaining team stands with you.
The County’s positions fail to recognize both the level of difficulty and danger in the work as well as the importance of COVID testing and Strike Team work in the community. When your team demanded the same 25% premium currently paid to nurses working in Care sites, the County actually claimed that COVID testing does not require the same level of “medical care, skill and potential exposure” as the work in the Care sites. The County could only have reached this conclusion by failing to talk to the nurses who have been doing this work.
The County seems comfortable asking nurses to do this heroic work in the most challenging of circumstances without adequate compensation. Your bargaining team is not. We managed to get the County to amend its proposal to include retroactive pay for nurses who have performed COVID testing. Because we do not want to leave money on the table for supervisors who have been doing the work, we will be signing the agreement. However, we want you to know that this fight is not over!
Your bargaining team has immediately proposed agreements to secure the same 25% premium for testing and Strike Team work as currently received by the nurses staffing the Care sites. During the next several days, we will be applying pressure at all levels of County government to sign on to an agreement that compensates nurses doing dangerous yet important work in a fair and equitable manner. Please stay tuned to find out how you can be part of this campaign.
We understand this work is voluntary and some agreed to it only because you assumed the County would step up and recognize your contributions. We hear you. Until the County changes its position, nurses will have to decide for themselves whether they are willing to perform COVID testing work for 5% or Strike Team work for 0%. While we place great value on the impact of this work in the community, we will support the decision of every nurse.