NICU Bargaining

Yesterday, we began impact bargaining with MultiCare for the NICU nurses. MultiCare transferred the NICU beds from the Tacoma General license to the Mary Bridge license, which means that the NICU nurses are now Mary Bridge employees. The NICU nurses voted to remain in WSNA (otherwise, they would have become members of the Mary Bridge nurses union).

We anticipated new challenges in this bargaining because NICU will be the only unit licensed to Mary Bridge but located within Tacoma General Hospital, and the nurses will be the only WSNA nurses that work for Mary Bridge (so, coexisting with a different nurses union). We expected that MultiCare would address the differences in the MB and TG contracts in a MOU that would attach to the existing TG contract, but also how this unit will adjust to Mary Bridge policies and procedures while existing in TG space. We were mistaken.

MultiCare passed its first proposal, which was a brand-new, stand-alone contract for NICU that separated the NICU nurses not only from the MB bargaining unit but from our TG bargaining unit as well. This 53 page document proposed a different expiration date from the TG contract, meaning, under management’s proposal, that the NICU nurses bargain at a different time than the TG nurses, but at the same time as the other nurses union at MB – this would alienate NICU and leave 150 NICU nurses standing alone against tough issues in our future. It also removes approximately 150 nurses from the TG bargaining unit, nearly 17%, and diminishing collective action power of the unit as a whole.

We are not in agreement with these changes nor the implications of MultiCare’s proposal.

The proposal did offer good news for NICU nurses who had concerns about our schedules and benefits:

  • Management said that there are no plans to convert nurses who are currently working 8 hour shifts to 12 hour shifts, and no rebid or restructure is anticipated.
  • Nurses who work .6 FTE’s and are grandfathered into full benefits will be able to keep their full benefits.

However, there are still many issues that will need additional discussions before we know more.

  • Seniority and how it affects every aspect of the CBA is still on the table (management didn’t propose any changes specifically, but seniority isn’t locked down yet).
  • Floating will require more discussion in the coming weeks.
  • Ratios are not included in their proposal, not are break nurses (neither exist at MB).
  • Wages and premiums are currently scheduled to remain the same for the life of their proposal, however they are requesting that their proposal expire in August 2024, much earlier than the TG contract. At that point, all wages and premiums will have to be re-bargained with a bargaining team 1/6th the size of the TG bargaining team *and* simultaneous with when the separate MB nurses union will be bargaining. For those of you who came to observe our bargaining, you saw how convoluted it was to bargaining one contract. We’re not sure MultiCare has really thought this through – what if each MB nurses union wants different things? Would this lead to different wage scales, different premiums, different pay practices? 

NICU needs the support of all TG nurses to stay in this bargaining unit and to maintain the benefits we have already won. Stay tuned for how you can help your fellow nurses!

In solidarity,
The WSNA NICU bargaining team: 
Crystal Anderson
Rosie Robertson
Angela Moran
Kristina Madden
Monique Presutti
Ronna Crandall

Questions? Contact WSNA Nurse Representative Brenda Balogh at bbalogh@wsna.org.