It’s been nearly three years since Arbitrator Douglas Hammond ordered Tacoma General to stop using the break buddy system to provide rest breaks, and to begin using break relief nurses. For the past three years, MultiCare has defied that order – which both TG and WSNA had agreed in advance would be final and binding – and instead launched a costly, lengthy and futile court battle.
In July, the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected MultiCare’s attempt to invalidate the arbitrator’s decision. On Monday, the federal district court issued an order confirming and enforcing the arbitrator’s decision.
On Nov. 7, 2018, WSNA sent Bill Robertson a letter demanding that MultiCare immediately comply with the arbitrator’s decision by ceasing the use of the break buddy system to provide rest breaks. The arbitrator’s award requires TG not to violate the established nurse staffing ratios in providing break relief to registered nurses, and to staff, schedule and assign break relief nurses to provide rest breaks throughout the hospital. To date, TG has not complied. If MultiCare continues to defy the court’s order, it risks contempt of court.
WSNA is moving forward with a grievance challenging TG’s refusal to comply with the arbitrator’s order, seeking back pay for nurses who have not gotten rest breaks as required by the arbitrator, and attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in the litigation.
What’s happening in your unit? Have you been getting your rest breaks regularly? Are break relief nurses assigned to your unit?
Contact WSNA Nurse Representative Sydne James at email@example.com or at 206-575-7979, ext. 3004.