MultiCare chooses to prolong losing court battle rather than provide much-needed break relief

As previously announced, WSNA won an important victory this summer when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected MultiCare’s attempt to undo a rest break arbitration award directing it to give up the buddy system and to instead start using break relief nurses.

MultiCare’s only choice now is to try to appeal to the United States Supreme Court – a strategy that seems extremely unlikely to be successful given that the Court only agrees to even consider about 0.1% of cases appealed to it. But MultiCare says that it is “seriously considering” doing just that.

Worse, MultiCare is asking the trial court judge to issue a “stay” in the case while it decides whether to seek review from the Supreme Court. This would mean that MultiCare would be excused from complying with the Ninth Circuit’s order and the arbitration award while it considers its options. If the stay were granted, MultiCare could continue using the failed break buddy system, and continue refusing to use break relief nurses as it has now been ordered to do both by the Arbitrator and the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Shockingly, MultiCare wrote that the impact of further delay would be “minimal” because “nurses continue to be financially compensated by TGH for any missed rest breaks.” Apparently, MultiCare still doesn’t understand that it’s not just about the money – nurses want patient safety and to be able to take their breaks!

While disappointing, MultiCare’s latest move is not surprising given that it has now spent over five years evading and fighting the promises it made in the 2013 rest break settlement agreement, which was designed to ensure that nurses could actually take their rest breaks. Imagine how different things might be had MultiCare instead used that time and money to actually provide its nurses with relief for rest breaks.

If you have any questions, please contact WSNA Nurse Representative Sara Frey, JD, BSN, RN at sfrey@wsna.org or at 206.575.7979, ext. 3039.