Newsletter and Update October 2023

In this issue: 

  1. Pay Rules
  2. Certification List
  3. Mt. Vernon Surgical Center
  4. CNO Recruitment
  5. MOU / Extra Shift Incentive
  6. Staffing Committee
  7. Work Hours and Shift Length
  8. Floating to Cascade Hospital
  9. Layoffs and Restructures
  10. Upcoming Events and Help Needed

Your elected officers met with leadership from Skagit on October 18, 2023 and the following is a summary of the discussions and outcomes.  Formal minutes may be accessed at the Skagit page on our website at www.wsna.org and on the intranet.

Pay Rules

The officers raised a concern regarding the pay rules for overtime calculations which is not accessible to employees as we had agreed upon when electing to go to electronic payroll.   Why is this important?  This is critical in understanding how your overtime is calculated.  For example:  if you are designated as a 12/40 classification that interprets to your overtime being calculated for anything worked over 12 hours (the first number) or anything over 40 hours in a week (the second number).  Classifications are different based on where you work and your typical shift length.  This is really important for each of you!  And HR should not change your designation without your knowledge!  Management has acknowledged that this is missing from your easy access, and they are actively working to correct this error.  In the meantime, please feel free to ask your manager what your pay rule is if you have any questions.

Certification List

MSCN – Multiple sclerosis Certified Nurse has been added to the recognized certifications for neurology clinic.  Those nurses who have to complete the NIHSS certification will have until the end of the year to do so.  The complete list of certifications will be located on the intranet at the hospital and once we receive this updated list, we will also post it on the Skagit page of WSNA.org website.

Mount Vernon Surgical Center

As stated previously, your WSNA officers have stood resolute in their determination that outpatient surgery centers do not perform call duties for inpatient facilities.  When your officers first learned of this plan, we issued a demand to bargain over these conditions.  That was ignored and the job postings went up.  At that time, we issued a cease and desist and an additional demand to bargain.  We have since learned that nurses have been hired into those roles and an association level grievance has been filed.  Association level gives us the option of fast tracking the grievance process by beginning at step 3.  (Complete details are found in your contract.)  Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.  We are currently waiting for a date to meet with leadership to discuss.


An active nationwide search is underway for a new CNO for Skagit.  Resumes are being reviewed and interviews are being set up.

MOU / Extra Shift Incentive

Your officers and WSNA team have been in touch with leadership regarding the extension of the existing MOU since August of 2023.  You have already heard that leadership initially proposed a decrease in the day shift pay and an increase in the night shift pay and a survey went out to gain all of your opinions regarding this.  The response was overwhelming!  Thank you!

We were able to present to our leadership the clear feelings of all of you and we reached an agreement to extend until March 31, 2024 with the current existing payouts and fought off any reductions.  Once Skagit’s attorney has affixed the signature, the complete MOU will be posted for all to review but at this time just know nothing has changed except the expiration date.

What was concerning in the responses, however, was that some nurses at Skagit have been told the MOU doesn’t apply to their department.  To be clear… if you work at Skagit in a bargaining unit position you are covered under the contract and the MOU is applicable.  It is up to the management’s discretion whether to offer incentive pay.  You are always free to ask if the offered extra shift qualifies for the extra pay and as always you are free to say no or yes.

Data shows the MOU is valuable and below are the results to show how many qualified MOU shifts were picked up each month (it is total number and not broken down by department).
January        335
February      342
March          413
April             410
May              452
June             468
July               429
August           507

Staffing Committee Update

As you know, a new staffing law has been signed by the governor and has some big changes to the existing law.  The staffing committee at Skagit will be looking at this in detail and creating their plans to be in compliance.  The new law has many timelines where various requirements must be met.  The first and foremost change is that non-nursing personnel will now be included in the committee and have input on reviewing the charter as well as the staffing concern forms.  These may include surgical techs, ED techs, MA etc.

However, please note that these non-nursing staff members are IN ADDITION to the nurses who represent their respective departments.  Ideally, we would love to see a representative and an alternate from each unit at Skagit including the clinics whose staffing plans are different from in hospital units.  In accordance with the law, the nurses who represent their departments are chosen by your elected officers.  Attendance is paid by the hospital and each manager and department is tasked with finding coverage so that the nurse may attend.  Managers are now being encouraged to put the dates of the meeting on the calendars for scheduling so that everyone is aware that the representative must be relieved to attend.  Nurses are not required to attend on their days off however.  The law is very clear about no retaliation for completing concern forms or participating in the committee.  If you are interested in making a difference in your department please email Liz Rainaud at tulipcityquilt@aol.com or your nurse representative sue Dunlap at sdunlap@wsna.org and we will be in touch!

Extensive training is being provided for the staffing committee and the first session was held October 19.  In addition, the Department of Health is also offering training session which can be registered for and attended by zoom link from their website.

Work Hours and Shift Length

There seems to be some confusion around what constitutes a shift.  The contract is clear that shifts are recognized as 8, 10 or 12 hours in length.  We are aware that some people are picking up 4 hours to help out with staffing but that would be “classified” as a partial shift only.  Four hour “shifts” by themselves do not exist!   There is definitely room for adjustments within the contract specifically the article on Innovative shifts.  We are awaiting receipt of an information request as we have become aware of some rather odd numbered FTE that are in existence currently.  More information to follow on this but if you have questions, please reach out to your nurse representative.

In addition to the shift length, the issues of breaks and lunch have been raised as a concern.  The law is very clear about this and states that your first 15 minutes – which is paid time – must start within the first four (4) hours of your shift.  Your lunch is not paid time and must be started within the first five (5) hours of your shift.  You are entitled to a second fifteen (15) paid break as well.  If you work twelve-hour shifts, you are also entitled to a third fifteen-minute paid break.

We have heard that some units in the clinic were having their nurses take 1-hour breaks.  This was actually negotiated and is included in the appendix of the contract applicable to clinic staff only because of their extended hours of being open and a clinic’s ability to “close” during lunch time to allow for the hour break.  However, this hour break does not incorporate your paid fifteen-minute breaks.   Your paid breaks are separate and in addition to your lunch hour.  Anyone who misses a break in accordance with the above guidelines / law is entitled to pay in overtime amount.

Having accurate records of how much staff are missing those paid breaks and how often is critical for your manager and WSNA to advocate for additional staffing so that the department can meet the expectations of the law.  We are currently awaiting further information on this issue as well from HR and will update when we know more.

Floating to Cascade Hospital in Arlington

We have had a request from nurses at Cascade with a desire to pick up shifts at Skagit hospital or in the clinics as needed.  As you know, Cascade nurses have their own union and their own separate contract.  Their contract differs from Skagit’s contract significantly.  We have met with their nurses and leadership with the respective legal representation to try and come to an agreement on floating language on three (3) separate occasions already and have been unable to do so.  We are still open to pursuing this discussion and attempting to reach an agreement but there are many issues at play with this.  We have not heard back from leadership about arranging this and at this time suspect it may be deferred to our larger contract negotiations next year.

Currently, Skagit nurses are not permitted to work at Cascade hospital if they hold a WSNA bargaining unit position at Skagit.  And the reverse is also true.  Also, we have asked leadership if they would permit nurses to apply for and hold a peer diem position at the other facility and follow that facilities collective bargaining agreement but that request has been denied by leadership.  So, at this time is not permitted to hold an FTE at Skagit and a per diem position at Cascade.

Layoffs and restructures

We have seen an increase in departments undertaking restructuring and possible layoffs.  At this time no nurse has lost their job as there is a plethora of vacancies within the hospital system.  The contract is clear about how these should be handled, and the leadership is very aware of the steps needing to be taken.  However there have been instances where the process has not been followed correctly.  So, for everyone’s clarity please know that anything that affects a nurse’s hours, wages and/or working conditions is a subject of mandatory bargaining and needs to be discussed with WSNA prior to any announcements or changes made to you the nurses doing the work.

If you hear of anything i.e., in a staff meeting it is perfectly acceptable to ask if this has been brought to the attention of the union already and then please let one of your officers or your nurse representative know right away so that we may intervene on your behalf.  There are many protections built into the contract that are there to help you, but we need to know of any potential changes so that we may advocate on your behalf.

Help Needed

We are actively preparing for contract negotiations which is slated to begin next spring.  We want to be completely prepared as we are anticipating this will be a challenge.  So we are looking at having an event shortly which will kick off our preparations and bring us all together.  Look for an announcement for an event involving food trucks and information and get together for all Skagit staff!  It promises to be fun and informative and a great way to meet and greet all of you.

One thing to consider as we look to the negotiations is how you can support your team at the table.  Often we will have asks of the nurses who are working the day of negotiations such as please put on a WSNA sticker to show your support to the team.  We will need a point person in each department who would be willing to do some tasks such as putting a sticker in everyone’s mailbox or handing out information and providing the team with feedback from your peers.  We have affectionately called these point people local unit reps.  There will be training provided and it is remote so you can attend in fuzzy slippers with your favorite fall beverage.  But the officers cannot do this alone – we really need all your help.  And this includes all clinic nurses and clinic locations!  And let’s not forget our hero hospice nurses!  This role will involve very minimal time outside of work which is a bonus for those who have other commitments and life responsibilities.  Please discuss amongst your co-workers on your unit and please consider serving in this role!  Many hands make light the work and we do need to show a truly unified front to management during this time.

A reminder that we do have a closed Facebook private group for WSNA members only.  That link is https://www.facebook.com/groups/skagitrns and you must be a member of WSNA to join.  All information and updates are generally placed here first and gets to all of you quicker than my email updates although rest assured the email updates will continue.  If you love to interact on social media, please submit a request to join and you will hear from me!

We are still looking for anyone who would like to be a welcoming face and voice to all our new hire nurses to learn how to present at new hire orientation.  Those are 30 minutes every other Monday at the business center.  Again, training is provided and if we have a group of people who can do this, the responsibility can be shared and will not be burdensome.  It really is a lot of fun!  Currently Abu Cameron has been attending as well as your nurse rep but drop a line if you are interested.  If you would like to just attend one, drop a line as well.  We welcome everyone!

Coffee hour at Whidbey coffee on Marketplace in Burlington still is taking place the fourth Thursday of every month at 0800 hours.  Reminders will go out monthly but encourage anyone to attend.  Come and have a coffee / snack courtesy of your local WSNA officers!  It is very informal, but I am available for questions and chats at that time and would love to see you!

Our next meeting with management is scheduled for December 6 so look for another update following that meeting.

Lastly, Skagit Regional Health owes each of you tremendously for your work and commitment to their care facilities.  Each of you is a key indispensable asset to this company and a real blessing to your community.  You are valued, you are appreciated, and I encourage you to say that to each other daily!  Your officers and everyone at WSNA are committed to seeing that value reflected in your wages and working conditions and will continue to fight for you. 

ChairLiz Rainaud, MN, RN, RNC-OBFBC
Co-ChairJessica Googe, RNEndoscopy
TreasurerRachel Yates, RNUC
SecretaryFelicia Dehon, RNED
MembershipKim McCann, RNFBC
GrievanceAbu Cameron  RNFloat
GrievanceBranden White, RNFloat

Questions? Contact WSNA Nurse Representative Sue Dunlap at sdunlap@wsna.org