Management continues to present proposals that benefit them and that are bad news for us.
Their latest unsavory proposal is called “Reallocation.” Under this proposal, management would have the ability to change nurses’ FTEs, shifts and hours without following the current layoff procedures which have been in the contract for years. Management’s dangerous proposal would dilute the power of our seniority and give us far fewer options than we currently have.
There are other proposals that they have made that are not good for nurses.
The wages for RNs at SRH have lagged behind those of nurses working at nearby WSNA hospitals for some time now. WSNA has been proposing that SRH increase wages since day one of bargaining to correct the competitive wage disadvantage that management has insisted upon in past negotiations.
Meanwhile, management is proposing an uncompetitive 1.25% across-the-board wage increase in each year of the contract, and conditions a further one-time .75% wage increase in 2019 upon whether the hospital meets quality metrics goals regarding nurse communications. If the hospital doesn’t meet these goals, nurses will not get their full potential wage increases. We can only assume that management believes that SRH nurses have all the tools and staffing support for the Hospital to meet these goals. Meanwhile, nurses tell us about staffing problems at SRH; and management refuses agree to substantive, meaningful approaches to staffing problems. Management fails to recognize that nurses are professionally driven and, that given the proper tools and support, provide exemplary care. Area WSNA hospitals understand this and do not hold their nurses’ compensation hostage as part of a misguided pay practice. They guarantee full wage increases for the life of their contracts, all the while facing similar Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement constraints as SRH. We fear that management’s dangerous new approach to compensation will give SRH nurses yet another reason to look elsewhere for employment where they can earn a better wage and count on guaranteed wage increases that are higher than what management is proposing.
Decrease in healthcare and retirement benefits:
Management is still proposing that they be permitted to try to reduce your health and retirement benefits during the life of the agreement, if it so desires. Management has rejected our proposal to improve health and to preserve retirement benefits.
Some of our other proposals:
Charge nurse premium: We proposed to increase this from $2 to $2.50.
OT on holidays: We proposed double time for OT on a holiday.
Education time: We proposed to increase this from 24 hours to 40 hours.
Staffing: We can only assume that, rather than meaningfully engaging WSNA on substantive staffing and resource solutions, management believes that the solution to improving quality metric benchmarks is to have nurses work harder so that they can realize the full value of a potential wage increase without a corresponding commitment by management to ensure that nurses have the proper staffing and resources to provide excellent care. We believe there is a better approach and have proposed staffing language so that the level of care can be improved.
Here is WSNA’s latest proposal on staffing:
Staffing. The Employer’s staffing plan and its implementation shall in no event violate the following commitments. Each unit in the employer’s facilities shall maintain staffing levels that provide for safe patient care and for the health and safety of nurses. In order to provide safe patient care and for the health and safety of nurses, the employer shall:
Provide staffing levels that enable nurses to receive meals and rest breaks;
Provide staffing levels that enable nurses to utilize their accrued paid time off;
Refrain from assigning nurses to provide care to more patients than anticipated by the agreed staffing matrix;
Maintain staffing levels that enable nurses to meet their responsibilities under the Nurse Practice Act.
Management’s response to this common-sense proposal is “NO.”
How does management expect nurses to help them meet their goals when they refuse to agree to staff so that nurses provide safe patient care or so that they can receive meal and rest breaks? They won’t even agree to abide by the staffing matrix. The next time you are working short-staffed, ask yourself what management is doing for you to help them meet goals relating to nurses’ communication with patients and their families. After all, under management’s proposal, your patient’s quality of care and your paycheck will depend on it.
Make no mistake about it, management is proposing sweeping, fundamental and disturbing changes to your contract that we believe will be bad for nursing and bad for patients. Now more than ever, it is important that all nurses be informed about these issues and to join us in our defense of nursing at SRH.