WSNA wants to clarify our position on the Governor’s vaccine mandate, on PeaceHealth’s own imposed Covid-19 vaccine mandate (which is not the same thing as the Governor’s mandate), and on what legal action WSNA is pursuing against PeaceHealth as a result of PeaceHealth’s refusal to bargain over actions it is taking that will exacerbate already crisis-levels of staffing.
-WSNA supports Governor Inslee’s science-based approach to a vaccine mandate
-PeaceHealth is not following the Governor’s mandate. PeaceHealth has instead imposed its own vaccine mandate that is far more stringent than the Governor’s, is poorly thought out, and will result in even fewer nurses available to provide care.
-PeaceHealth is legally obligated to bargain with WSNA over its policy. While PeaceHealth initially sat down with the Union and made overtures to bargain, PeaceHealth has since refused to respond to the Union and continues to unilaterally make changes to its policy without bargaining with the Union – this is a violation of federal labor law. Again, WSNA does not take issue with the Governor’s mandate; WSNA takes issue with PeaceHealth’s unlawful, unilaterally implemented policy that will result in fewer nurses being able to work.
-Under PeaceHealth’s policy (and federal and state law), nurses who have exemptions to taking the vaccine on medical or sincerely held religious belief bases will not be permitted to work but will instead be removed from schedules on September 1 and put on unpaid leaves of absence. To be clear – no other hospital where WSNA represents workers is removing exempt nurses from the schedule; every other hospital is keeping exempt nurses on the floor with the appropriate PPE.
These are not nurses who have refused to get vaccinated; these are nurses whose exemptions PeaceHealth has approved and who are not being permitted to work. This is a violation of our CBA and underscores that PeaceHealth is not interested in addressing the staffing crisis and the hundreds of ADOs nurses have recently submitted.
-PeaceHealth’s removal of the exempt nurses from schedules as of September 1 and instead placing them on unpaid leave is unlawful; it is a violation of federal labor law that PeaceHealth has done this without bargaining.
-As a result of this unlawful action, WSNA has filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board. Our position is that this unlawful action (the unilateral removal of exempt nurses from the schedule) will exacerbate the nursing shortage and put more of a burden on vaccinated nurses who continue to work the floors. We believe this will prevent us from providing quality care to our patients and will cause even further stress to the nurses who continue to work.
-As a result of this unlawful action, WSNA has asked the National Labor Relations Board to seek an injunction against PeaceHealth from removing exempt nurses from schedules on September 1. We are awaiting a response from the Board shortly.
Union statement on vaccination requirement for health care workers Aug 9, 2021
Seattle, Wash.— The Washington State Nurses Association, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW and UFCW 21 issued the following joint statement on COVID-19 vaccination requirements for health care workers:
“As unions representing nurses and health care workers in Washington state, the Washington State Nurses Association, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW and UFCW21 support science-based public health directives on COVID-19 vaccination requirements for frontline health care workers, with medical and religious exemptions. We stand firmly behind vaccination as the best way to save the lives of patients, family members and members of our communities.
At the same time, we fully expect employers to bargain with us over this change to working conditions.
We are facing an extraordinary staffing crisis in our hospitals and continue to advocate for reasonable deadlines and options for frequent testing as well as masking, as required in all health care facilities, for those who are unvaccinated. These provisions mirror those included in mandates in other states that allow health care workers to stay on the job caring for all of us through this ongoing crisis.
We also know that while the vaccines are incredibly effective, they do not replace PPE, universal masking or other infection control measures. We will continue to demand universal access to N95 masks and push employers to improve ventilation in facilities where needed.”
For questions, please contact your WSNA Nurse Representative.