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.