Union

WhidbeyHealth Medical Center


Preparations for WSNA contract negotiations are underway!


The WSNA local unit officers and leadership team are preparing for contract negotiations. Your input and participation are vital in getting the best possible contract for WhidbeyHealth RNs. Here’s how you can be involved.

The survey will be available until Dec. 3.

  • Consider becoming a member of the negotiating team – we need nurses at the table to voice the interests for everyone!
  • Continue to watch the WhidbeyHealth homepage and your email for updates and information.
  • Update your contact information with the WSNA Membership Department at membership@wsna.org or by phone at 206-575-7979.

Questions? Contact one of our Local Unit Officers or WSNA Nurse Representative Terri Williams, MS, RN at 206-575-7979, ext. 3058.


WSNA's Position Statement on influenza vaccinations


Our stance is that RNs can make the decision as to whether or not they want to receive the flu vaccine. If the nurse refuses immunization, we agree with the CDC recommendation of wearing a mask in patient care (6 ft from patients) areas only. Breakrooms, hallways, parking lots, cafeteria, etc. are not considered patient care areas.

WSNA's position on mandatory influenza vaccinations and strategies to address influenza

WSNA is committed to advocating for the health of nurses, patients and the communities they serve. Because of this commitment, WSNA strongly recommends that all nurses and other health care providers be vaccinated against all influenza viruses. WSNA strongly supports and urges voluntary efforts that aim for 100 percent vaccination rates, including annual education and implementation of comprehensive influenza vaccination programs for all health care providers.

WSNA supports enforcement of existing federal and state regulations to ensure that all employers meet the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) andOccupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) requirements for influenza prevention.

WSNA believes a hospital-by-hospital approach to mandatory vaccinations is poor public policy. It lacks consistency and adequate protection for patients and health care workers. WSNA believes that any vaccination policy is only one component of a comprehensive influenza prevention policy and should only be enacted as a result of federal or public health regulation. WSNA believes that any such regulation must include the following core components:

  • The policy must cover all health care settings and health care workers. This includes all settings such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, adult boarding homes, outpatient clinics, etc. Health care workers must include those licensed and unlicensed who work in close proximity to patients, (e.g. nurses, emergency responders, physicians, housekeeping personnel, health care secretarial staff, etc).
  • Employers must ensure that appropriate protection and safety measures are in place to provide a safe workplace environment for nurses and health care workers.
  • Employers must ensure that influenza vaccines are available and offered to every health care worker annually at convenient times and locations. The employer must not discriminate against or discipline nurses for the appropriate use of sick time.
  • If a declination form is required for vaccination, the nurse must be able to sign the form confidentially; that is, the nurse must not be required to divulge personal health information or declare the reason(s) for refusal of a vaccine. The employer must not discriminate against or discipline a nurse for opting out.
  • The employer must comply with CDC and OSHA Guidelines must be used for prevention, protection, and safety of nurses and patients.

In solidarity!

Gwen S. Parrick, BSN, RN; Chair
gwensparrick@hotmail.com

Kathy Cox, RN; Secretary/Treasurer
cxgeokat@yahoo.com

Laura A. Black, RN; Grievance Officer
tomnlaura@hotmail.com

Jeremy Aaron, BSN RN; Grievance Officer
jaaron575@gmail.com

Terri Williams, MS, RN; WSNA Nurse Rep
twilliams@wsna.org


Update - staffing issues at WhidbeyHealth


Nursing care requires continuous patient assessment, critical thinking, expert nursing judgment, advocating on behalf of our patients and educating patients and their families. These activities are the essence of nursing care and are critical factors in avoiding preventable complications, injuries and avoidable deaths.

When staffing levels are too low, RNs are frequently forced to compromise the care they give to their patients. Unsafe nurse staffing is a dangerous practice that leads to medical errors, poorer patient outcomes and nursing injuries as well as burnout. Ensuring safe nurse staffing must continues to be a top priority for all nurses.

In 2017, the Washington state legislature passed the Patient Safety Act, addressing this top issue of safe staffing. The bill creates greater transparency and accountability for nurse staffing plans and the work of nurse staffing committees in hospitals. The new bill holds hospitals more accountable for staffing in order for YOU to deliver safe, high quality care to their patients.

Among other amendments and additions to the law, the following three require the RNs to take part in this accountability. The law now requires the Employer to:

  • Allow a nurse to report to, and file a complaint with, the staffing committee any time the nurse personnel assignment is not in accordance with the adopted staffing plan;
  • Allow nurses who may disagree with the shift-to-shift adjustments in staffing levels to submit a complaint to the staffing committee;
  • Require staffing committees to develop a process to examine and respond to submitted complaints, and to determine if a complaint is resolved or dismissed based on unsubstantiated data.

The “process” mentioned above is the Assignment Despite Objection (ADO) form. We strongly suggest that you complete an (ADO) form regarding any staffing concerns and issues. These are utilized for real-time tracking efforts, in addition to discussing them with management at both the monthly Staffing Committee and Conference Committee.

To read more regarding other aspects of the new Staffing Law that affect you, click here.

There is also language in the Bargaining Agreement (Contract) that supports this:

19.1 Staffing. The parties agree to cooperate in an effort to insure an appropriate relationship between patient care needs and staffing levels. These shall be appropriate subjects for WGHWSNA Conference Committee consideration. A nurse questioning the level of staffing on her/his unit shall communicate this concern to her/his immediate supervisor who will utilize available management resources to attempt to resolve the situation. When appropriate, the nurse should use appropriate forms to document the situation, a copy to be given to the supervisor, and the nurse to receive a written response. Standards established by the Centers for Medicare/Medicaid and Washington State Department of Health (“DOH”) shall be considered relevant criteria for determining appropriate staffing levels.

If you have any questions, please contact one of your Local Unit Officers or your WSNA Nurse Rep.


In Solidarity!

Gwen S. Parrick, BSN, RN; Chair; gwensparrick@hotmail.com 360-239-3786

Kathy Cox, RN; Secretary/Treasurer; cxgeokat@yahoo.com 360-632-3718

Laura A. Black, RN; Grievance Officer; tomnlaura@hotmail.com 360-672-9305

Jeremy Aaron, BSN RN; Grievance Officer; jaaron575@gmail.com 502-525-0860

Terri Williams, MS, RN; WSNA Nurse Rep; twilliams@wsna.org 206-575-7979 x3058 (Fax 206-575-1908)


Low census - defined


Happy 2018! Since it’s the beginning of a new year, and as a reminder, we wanted to share the contract language regarding low census. There are two areas of the contract you should be aware of: Art. 11.2 Low Census and the Memorandum of Understanding between Whidbey General Hospital (“Hospital”) and the Washington State Nurses Association (“Association”) on page 32.

View the contract here.

We are highlighting these two areas below in bullets:

  • Mandatory low census will be limited to no more than forty-eight (48) hours per nurse per six (6) month period;
  • Nurses who report for work as scheduled and who must leave because of low census shall be paid a minimum of four (4) hours’ report pay at the normal rate of pay;
  • If prior to the start of a nurse’s scheduled shift a nurse is notified of a mandatory low census day off less than two (2) hours prior to the start of that shift, the nurse shall receive four (4) hours of pay at the normal rate;
  • Low census days will be rotated equitably among all nurses, volunteers being sought and considered first;
  • Nurses will also be offered the option to float to areas where they are needed and qualified;
  • If no volunteers, Per Diem and Travelers will be sent home first;
  • The Hospital will not assign mandatory standby duty to the nurse who is low censused but it can be mutually agreed by the nurse;
  • Mandatory low census defined:
    • The Hospital assigns low census time to the nurse or;
    • When a nurse volunteers for low census after the Hospital asks a nurse;
      • A request is when a nurse offers to take low census. The offer is always initiated by the nurse and the requesting nurse is not considered a volunteer.
      • A volunteer is when a nurse accepts the Hospital’s offer to take low census. The offer must be initiated by the Hospital and communicated to the individual nurse verbally or in writing (MLC).

We suggest you keep records of your MLC/VLC in order to take advantage of the (48) hour cap per six month period!


Nurse Safe Staffing Committee Nominations


The Safe Staffing Committee (per Safe Nurse Staffing law, 2008) has not met since October 2015. WSNA and Management are working collaboratively to reinstate this committee. Per the WSNA/WhidbeyHealth Local Unit Rules (By-laws), members of the committee are appointed by the Executive Committee/Local Unit Officers.

Please nominate yourself or a co-worker for this important committee. Training will be provided by WSNA and the Officers. If you sat on this Committee in the past, please be sure to nominate yourself if you’re interested in continuing. We need nominations for EVERY unit in the hospital that is covered in the Bargaining Unit. We plan to appoint two nurses per unit. These two nurses can either rotate attendance or one can be designated as a “backup.”

If you have any questions regarding the Safe Staffing Committee, please contact Terri Williams, MS, RN; WSNA Nurse Rep at twilliams@wsna.org.

Thank you for participating in this very important process to advocate for quality care, patient safety and your fellow nurses!


Convention 2017


Don't miss the upcoming Washington State Nurses Convention May 3-5! At Convention, we’ll be diving deep into one the top issues for registered nurses today: Creating a Culture of Safety. Register today for early bird pricing and hotel discounts (through March 30). Some local units are sponsoring attendance at Convention. Check with your local unit officers.


Congratulations to your Newly Elected Local Unit Officers


Chair: Gwen Parrick, BSN, RN (Diagnostic Imaging)
Secretary/Treasurer: Kathy Cox, RN (Surgery)
Grievance Officers: Laura Black, RN (Med-Surg) & Jeremy Aaron, BSN, RN (Home Health)

We extend a heartfelt Thank You to our out-going Officer Patricia (PC) Cable for her time, hard work and efforts representing the Bargaining Unit over the last many years! She will continue to volunteer with the Local Unit as a Unit Rep.

Please welcome your new Officers!

In Solidarity!


Celebrate National Nurses' Week


Date: Tuesday, May 10th
Time: 1830 – 2100 (Dinner at 1900)
Location: Coupeville Recreation Hall

Join your co-workers to celebrate Nurses Week with your friends and spouses! Dinner, music, bar, trivia, and more.

To help recognize your hard work and dedication, your Local Unit Funds will pay your cover charge!

Seating is limited – RSVP as soon as possible by contacting Line Goulet at echo2@whidbey.net.
**This event has been organized by “Nurses for Nurses” and sponsored by several community members.

In Solidarity!
Your Local Unit Officers: Gwen Parrick, RN; Laura Black, RN; Kathy Cox, RN and PC Cable, RN.
WSNA Nurse Rep: Terri Williams, MS, RN @ twilliams@wsna.org


Submit Your Nominations for Local Unit Officers


It’s time to elect WSNA Local Unit Officers! You may submit your own name or you may nominate another nurse. In order to be a candidate on the ballot, one must be a WSNA member in good standing and be willing to run for a position. We are seeking nominations for:

(2) Co-Chairs
Secretary/Treasurer
(2) Grievance Officers

Email your nominations for Officer positions to twilliams@wsna.org no later than April 15, 2016. State name of RN being nominated and Position for which they are being nominated.

Ballots will be mailed to all members following the close of the nomination period.

IN SOLIDARITY!

Your Current Local Unit Officers:
Gwen Parrick, RN (Co-Chair); PC Cable, RN (Co-Chair); Kathy Cox, RN (Secretary/Treasurer); Laura Black, RN (Grievance Officer)

WSNA Nurse Representative:
Terri Williams, MS, RN; 206.575.7979 ext 3058. twilliams@wsna.org


We have a new contract!


Special thanks to our negotiation team members for their dedication, patience, and fierce advocacy on behalf of every RN at WGH. Their efforts in concert with the support and actions of our bargaining unit and community are a big reason we were able to achieve a fair contract.

2016 Negotiation Team Members
Gwen Parrick
Laura Black
PC Cable
Bonnie Garcia
Kathy Cox
Ann Bell

Dori Painter

Coming Soon!
Local Unit Officer Elections - Your opportunity to get involved.
Local Unit Meet & Greet - A great opportunity to take a break and get to know each other outside of work and welcome the newest members of our bargaining unit.



We Reached a Tentative Agreement on the Contract!


** Ratification Vote Scheduled **

Friday, March 4th

Voting Times:
0630-0900 and 1400-1630

Location:
Conference Rooms A and B

A summary of the Tentative Agreement will be available here prior to the vote.

At the voting session, you will have an opportunity to ask questions of your RN Negotiation Team, WSNA Nurse Representative Terri Williams, and the Attorney who represented the nurses.

Criteria to vote:

  • You must be a WSNA member “in good standing.” This means any past dues must be paid in full and those who join as a member at the vote must pay 3 months dues in advance.
  • You must bring some form of identification with you to vote - your RN badge will suffice.
  • One person, one vote, in person only. There is no voting by mail, email or proxy.

For any questions, contact WSNA Nurse Representative Terri Williams at twilliams@wsna.org or 206-575-7979, ext. 3058.


Negotiations Update


On December 11th, your fellow nurses on your WSNA team bargained with Management for the 16th day, including 7 days with the assistance of a state-appointed mediator. Through much hard work and with the unwavering support of the bargaining unit, we convinced Management to withdraw its dangerous, intermittent rest break proposal. We also reached agreement that ensures that a functioning preceptor program will be maintained and that the preceptor premium will be increased to $1.50 per hour. However, there is much more work to be done. Management still has some very troubling proposals on the table and has not agreed to reasonable proposals that we have offered.

Cases in Point:

Daily Overtime:
WSNA has proposed daily overtime for several units that currently are not on this pay system. Your peers in these departments are frequently held over beyond the end of their shifts. Unlike most of you, they do not receive overtime when Management keeps them working beyond the end of their scheduled shifts. This practice, we believe, leads to inappropriate or over scheduling of patients. Nurses deserve predictability and a reasonable expectation that their shifts will end on time so they can go home to their families and life outside of work. Patients deserve caregivers who have not worked long, unexpected hours. Management has said “NO” to a WSNA’s reasonable proposal that is afforded to most of the nurses at the hospital. Nor have they offered ANY solution to chronic overtime which is not good for nurses or patients.

Wages:
The wages for nurses at WGH are far below those of WSNA nurses at nearby facilities. WSNA has proposed wage increases to make WGH more competitive in recruiting and retaining nurses and to make the wage increases retroactive to the expiration date of the contract (4/1/15). Under Management’s proposal, nurses would not receive any retroactive pay for the period since the current contract expired on March 31, 2015. When St. Joseph’s, United General and Island Hospital recently settled their contracts after their expiration dates, Hospital leadership did the right thing and agreed to retroactive compensation. WGH Management thinks differently and wants to take financial advantage of prolonged negotiations.

Management's Baffling "Meeting Rooms" Proposals:
Management came to the table with a number of shocking proposals regarding WSNA’s ability to meet with nurses in WGH meeting rooms. We asked management what problems have arisen in the past regarding WSNA’s use of meeting rooms to meet with nurses. Management did not indicate that there were any problems. Among the Management’s proposals were the following:

“WGH Administration may be permitted to observe or monitor a meeting at any time.”

“Prior to the use of the meeting room, Administration reserves the right to review any signage, decorations or literature to be displayed in the meeting room for compliance with the meeting room policy.”

Monitoring WSNA Meeting at Any Time? Insisting on Prior Review of WSNA Communications with WGH Nurses?
Anyone with even the most basic understanding of proper labor-management relations should understand how inappropriate these proposals are. Although Management later withdrew these specific proposals after WSNA objected, it is STILL insisting, even after 12 bargaining sessions, on unnecessary constraints on WSNA’s ability to meet with nurses at the Hospital. During these negotiations, even though Management has not indicated any past issue with our use of meeting rooms, we have offered several proposals to alleviate concerns they may have. Still, Management says our accommodations are not enough. Such behavior at the table causes us to question Management’s desire to get a timely resolution. We can only wonder why Management is still fixated on a non-issue when there are other real issues regarding patient care that need addressing.

Orientation, Safety and Health:
Your WSNA team came to the table with several common sense proposals of additional requirements to ensure proper orientation, training and equipment for nurses to do their jobs. Management says “No” to our proposals and insists that we discuss these issues at a later time in Conference Committee. To Management, we say “we are sitting across the table from you NOW. This is the time to work on these issues.”

Retaining Nurses with Handcuffs:
Management continues to propose to handcuff newly hired nurses to their positions for six months during which they would be prohibited from applying for any other position at WGH. WGH struggles to retain nurses. Why would we strip a nurse of finding a good fit at WGH? Suppose WGH hires an experienced ICU nurse into the medical surgical unit and five months later a position opens up in the ICU. The nurse would have preferred a position at WGH in ICU, but no such position was open when she applied. And suppose five months later a position opens up in the ICU. Under Management’s proposal, that nurse would be prohibited from even applying for a job for which he or she would be very qualified. The nurse may decide to leave WGH to take an ICU position at another facility. Opportunity lost. Management should focus on improving things at WGH so that nurses want to stay, not because they have to stay.

Forcing Reserve Nurses to Work More:
Rather than focusing on improving core staffing so that reliance of per diems is lessened, Management continues to insist that reserve nurses be required to actually work more frequently, rather than just be available to work. However, reserve nurses already work a high number of hours, and Management’s proposal may well cause reserve nurses to leave WGH to look for work elsewhere where they would have greater flexibility that is a large part of the appeal of reserve positions.

As you can see, Management is still proposing substandard wages and seeks to impose conditions designed to handcuff nurses to their jobs rather than focusing on finding ways to make nurses want to stay here. Meanwhile, they refuse to make commitments regarding training appropriate working conditions. If Management really wants to move forward and improve its relationship with its nurses and WSNA, it should evidence that by coming to the table with proposals designed to address and resolve serious issues, rather than with mere platitudes.

We go back to the table on January 13th.

In Solidarity,

Your Fellow Nurses On Your WSNA Bargaining Team


When nurses speak, we all win!


Don't miss this upcoming event. This is your opportunity to meet with district legislators and describe a day in the life of a nursing professional, the challenges and highlights. Send a clear message that nurses are passionate about quality care and patient safety and are speaking up.

More information


Negotiations Update


Word Of The Day: “Platitude”

Wikipedia defines “Platitude” as a “trite, meaningless, or prosaic statement, generally directed at quelling social, emotional, or cognitive unease. Platitudes are geared towards presenting a shallow, unifying wisdom over a difficult topic. However, they are too overused and general to be anything more than undirected statements with ultimately little meaningful contribution towards a solution.”

On September 24, your fellow nurses on the WSNA team bargained with Management for the 12th day, including 3 days with the assistance of a state-appointed mediator. Whidbey General Hospital has indicated that it is encouraged by the progress thus far, that protracted negotiations are not cause for concern and that multiple ULPs filed by WSNA are par for the course. We, however, believe such sentiment does not do justice to the gravity of the issues at stake at WGH and is a mere Platitude. And while we are told that the administration wishes to move forward and renew a positive relationship with WSNA and the nurses at WGH, we remain concerned that the proposals that Management continues to insist upon at the table do not reflect a serious commitment to address issues that affect the Hospital, its nurses and its patients. This is a shame. With new leadership at the helm, now is the perfect time, not for platitudes, but for WGH to address serious issues seriously and to repair its image with the community. We are concerned that this may be an opportunity lost.

Instead of giving us meaningful solutions to several issues that remain unresolved, Management seems to be fixated on things that have not been issues, responds with mere platitudes to real problems and insists that WSNA simply withdraw all grievances and unfair labor practices without offering any meaningful resolution of the issues that gave rise to the litigation.

Cases in Point:

Management's Baffling "Meeting Rooms" Proposals:

Management came to the table with a number of shocking proposals regarding WSNA’s ability to meet with nurses in WGH meeting rooms. We asked management what problems have arisen in the past regarding WSNA’s use of meeting rooms to meet with nurses. Management did not indicate that there were any problems. Among the Management’s proposals were the following:

“WGH Administration may be permitted to observe or monitor a meeting at any time.”

“Prior to the use of the meeting room, Administration reserves the right to review any signage, decorations or literature to be displayed in the meeting room for compliance with the meeting room policy.”

Monitoring WSNA meetings at any time?! Insisting on prior review of WSNA communications with WGH nurses?! Anyone with even the most basic understanding of proper labor-management relations should understand how inappropriate these proposals are. Although Management later withdrew these specific proposals after WSNA objected, it is still insisting, even after 12 bargaining sessions, on unnecessary constraints on WSNA’s ability to meet with nurses at the Hospital. During these negotiations, even though Management has not indicated any past issue with our use of meeting rooms, we have offered several proposals to alleviate concerns they may have. Still, Management says our accommodations are not enough. Such behavior at the table causes us to question Management’s desire to get a timely resolution. We can only wonder why Management is still fixated on a non-issue when there are other real issues regarding patient care that need addressing.

Intermittent Rest Breaks:

After 12 bargaining sessions, Management is still insisting upon eroding your ability to get meaningful rest breaks. Your fellow nurses on the bargaining team realize how physically and mentally demanding nursing is. Adequate rest is vital to the well-being of nurses and for the safety of our patients. The current contract requires that nurses receive an uninterrupted 15-minute rest break every four hours. Instead of ensuring proper staffing so that nurses may take uninterrupted 15-minute breaks as required by the contract, Management wants to lower the bar and allow for “intermittent” rest breaks. That’s right; instead of getting one meaningful 15-minute rest break, Management wants to give “breaks” of much shorter duration. How much “rest” do you get during a short pit-stop to the bathroom or a quick dash to drink some water? As long as these few minutes of “rest” here and there total 15 minutes in each 4-hour period, that’s all the “rest” you would be entitled to. Think about that when you are working a long, difficult shift. Think about how that could impact the quality of care that you provide to your patients. Rather than addressing staffing so that nurses may take uninterrupted 15-minute breaks as required by the contract, Management wants to lower the bar and allow for “intermittent” rest breaks. WGH patients and nurses deserve better.

Staffing:

WSNA has proposed that WGH maintain staffing levels that ensure safety of nurses and patients alike and that ensure that nurses receive meal and rest breaks and can utilize available time off from work. Management’s response is simply: “No. Withdraw your proposal.”
Management simply has not lived up to its obligation regarding staffing. In fact, just a few months ago the Washington State Department of Health found that Whidbey General Hospital violated the state’s “Safe Nurse Staffing” law, created in 2008 to ensure that hospitals and nurses work together to develop nurse staffing plans adequate to keep patients safe. The Department of Health found that violation “may result in nurse staffing levels that do not support safe and effective patient care.” Given Management’s poor track record in this regard, we need stronger staffing language. Management simply says “No” and offers no solution.

Preceptors:

During negotiations in 2012, WSNA proposed that WGH implement a much-needed preceptor program that is commonplace at other facilities. A functioning preceptor program ensures, among other things, that nurses receive proper training and orientation under the guidance of more experienced nurses. It just makes sense for patient care. Despite what we felt was a very real and immediate need for the program, Management insisted that it needed until 2014 to implement the program. When negotiations were concluded, Management had agreed in writing to implement a preceptor program by January 1, 2014. Quite simply, Management did not abide by that commitment and still does not have a properly functioning preceptor program after all these years. WSNA has had to file an Unfair Labor Practice Complaint to force Management to live up to its agreement.

Now, Management is insisting that we simply withdraw the ULP Compliant as part of negotiations without resolving the underlying preceptor issue. With apparent amnesia on the history of the preceptor issue and without a hint of irony, Management has also proposed that we can discuss the issue sometime in the future at Conference Committee. Remember the word of the day? Platitude. The time to resolve this issue is now. Given that Management broke the law regarding its staffing obligations and given that they failed to live up to their agreement during last negotiations to implement a preceptor program, we have little confidence that they will do anything meaningful to address the issue in a committee at some time in the future. So much for leadership and accountability. We are at a loss as to why Management is stumbling over this issue when it seems to work well at so many other facilities. We ask Management to offer a positive, meaningful solution this issue, rather than spending money to fight it.

Orientation, Safety and Health:

Your WSNA team came to the table with several common sense proposals of additional requirements to ensure proper orientation, training and equipment for nurses to do their jobs. Management says “No” to our proposals and insists that we discuss these issues at a later time in Conference Committee. What is the word of the day? Platitude. To Management, we say “we are sitting across the table from you now. This is the time to work on these issues.”

Daily Overtime:

WSNA has proposed daily overtime for several units that currently are not on this pay system. Your peers in these departments are frequently held over beyond the end of their shifts. Unlike most of you, they do not receive overtime when Management keeps them working beyond the end of their scheduled shifts. This practice, we believe, leads to inappropriate or over scheduling of patients. Nurses deserve predictability and a reasonable expectation that their shifts will end on time so they can go home to their families and life outside of work. Patients deserve caregivers who have not worked long, unexpected hours. Management has said “No” to WSNA’s reasonable proposal that is afforded to most of the nurses at the hospital. Nor have they offered any solution to chronic overtime, which is not good for nurses or patients.

Retaining Nurses with Handcuffs:

Management continues to propose to handcuff newly hired nurses to their positions for six months during which they would be Prohibited from applying for any other position at WGH. WGH struggles to retain nurses. Why would we strip a nurse of finding a good fit at WGH? Suppose WGH hires an experienced ICU nurse into the medical surgical unit and five months later a position opens up in the ICU. The nurse would have preferred a position at WGH in ICU, but no such position was open when she applied. And suppose five months later a position opens up in the ICU. Under Management’s proposal, that nurse would be Prohibited from even applying for a job for which he or she would be very qualified. The nurse may decide to leave WGH to take an ICU position at another facility. Opportunity lost. Management should focus on improving things at WGH so that nurses want to stay, not because they have to stay.

Forcing Reserve Nurses to Work More:

Rather than focusing on improving core staffing so that reliance of per diems is lessened, Management continues to insist that reserve nurses be required to actually work more frequently, rather than just be available to work. However, reserve nurses already work a high number of hours, and Management’s proposal may well cause reserve nurses to leave WGH to look for work elsewhere where they would have greater flexibility that is a large part of the appeal of reserve positions.

Wages:

The wages for nurses at WGH are far below those of WSNA nurses at nearby facilities. WSNA has proposed wage increases to make WGH more competitive in recruiting and retaining nurses and to make the wage increases retroactive to the expiration date of the contract (4/1/15). Under Management’s proposal, nurses would not receive any retroactive pay for the period since the current contract expired on March 31, 2015. When St. Joseph’s, United General and Island Hospital recently settled their contracts after their expiration dates, Hospital leadership did the right thing and agreed to retroactive compensation. WGH Management thinks differently and wants to take financial advantage of prolonged negotiations.

As you can see, Management is still proposing substandard wages and seeks to impose conditions designed to handcuff nurses to their jobs rather than focusing on finding ways to make nurses want to stay here. Meanwhile, they refuse to make commitments regarding training and staffing. If Management really wants to move forward and improve its relationship with its nurses and WSNA, it should demonstrate that by coming to the table with proposals designed to address and resolve serious issues, rather than with mere Platitudes.

In Solidarity,

Your Fellow Nurses on your WSNA Bargaining Team


Board Meeting Update


Special thanks to Gwen Parrick, PC Cable, Laura Black and community members Connie Cavin, Rita Doak, and Linda Beller for speaking directly to the board of commissioners and delivering the petition with >500 signatures on your behalf. They also spoke up for the MAC RNs who were there but unable to stay.

They did a fantastic job. Also, thanks to those of you who took the time to create a show of force to demonstrating to the board just how important this is to all RNs at WGH.

What now?

"Like" us on Facebook: Whidbey General RNs Care for Us

Next Mediation Session: September 24th

“The nurse, through individual and collective effort, establishes, maintains, and improves the ethical environment of the work setting and conditions of employment that are conducive to safe, quality health care.”
~ ANA Code of Ethics: Provision 6 ~

It’s ethical, it’s professional, and it matters.


Current Issues, Updates, Items of Interest


Low Census – The order of low census “will be volunteers, agency, reserve, and when possible those working above their assigned FTE levels…”

  • If you have been Low Censused and there was a Traveler on the unit – CONTACT your WSNA Rep or Grievance Officer with dates.

Notification of Absence/Sickness: Notice “shall be given to the Employer as soon as possible on the first day of absence...”

  • If you are investigated or disciplined based on the (2) hours mentioned in the Employers policy, contact your WSNA Rep or your Grievance Officer.

PTO Scheduling: “Nurses shall present written requests for PTO as far in advance as possible (up to 12 months) but not less than two (2) weeks before the work schedule.”

  • If you are being denied PTO requests, contact your WSNA Rep or your Grievance Officer.

Community Rally-Q: Thursday, August 13th, 5–7 pm; Captain Whidbey Inn – Lagoon Lawn

  • Be sure to invite your family, neighbors and friends! Updates on negotiations will be shared at the Rally!!

Rally The Troops Take Part In Your Community "Rally-Q"


August 13, 2015, 5-7 pm
Hot Dog BBQ at 5 pm
Rally at 6 pm

Captain Whidbey Inn
On the Lagoon Lawn
2072 West Captain Whidbey Inn Road

Now is the time to come together as nurses and a community to push negotiations forward for a better contract for Whidbey General nurses!


For Immediate Release: July 20, 2015


Whidbey General Hospital cited by Department of Health for violating state “Safe Nurse Staffing” law
Violations “may result in nurse staffing levels that do not support safe and effective patient care”

July 20, 2015 – The Washington State Department of Health has found that Whidbey General Hospital is violating the state’s “Safe Nurse Staffing” law, created in 2008 to ensure that hospitals and nurses work together to develop nurse staffing plans adequate to keep patients safe.

Last Thursday, in response to a complaint filed by the Washington State Nurses Association, DOH reported that WGH is in violation of state law by failing to “implement a Nurse Staffing Committee to develop and monitor a staffing plan” and by not giving nurses “an opportunity to present and discuss issues related to staffing.”

The DOH further commented that the failure to operationalize the Nurse Staffing Committee, with staff nurse input, “may result in nurse staffing levels that do not support safe and effective patient care.”

“We are disappointed but, sadly, not surprised that management at Whidbey General is failing to follow the ‘Safe Nurse Staffing’ law,” said Christine Himmelsbach, MN, RN, WSNA Assistant Executive Director of Labor Relations. “Again and again, Whidbey General has failed to meet contractual obligations and even state law as regards our nurses. There’s not a lot of trust as we work hard to settle a contract for our members.”

In addition to failing to implement the state staffing law, Whidbey General management has refused WNSA contract proposals regarding safe staffing during current negotiations.

Whidbey General management has not followed through with its commitments to its nurses. For example, the Hospital failed to implement a preceptor program, which provides for crucial new skill development for nursing students and nurses under the guidance of more experienced nurses, as it agreed to do during its last contract negotiations with WSNA.

“It’s no wonder we’re wary about management proposals to, for example, tie nurse pay to undefined factors to be developed sometime in the future,” Himmelsbach added. “We’ve been burned in the past.”

Registered Nurses at Whidbey General have gathered hundreds of signatures on petitions of support from community members and are planning a community barbecue and rally in support of the RNs for early August.

Contact: Ruth Schubert, Communications & Public Relations, rschubert@wsna.org, (206) 713-7884


Important Negotiations Update!


Your fellow nurses on your WSNA bargaining team are continuing to participate in contract negotiations to secure a fair contract for you at Whidbey General Hospital. Thus far, we have had eight sessions and have one additional session scheduled at this time for June 2nd. While we made progress and reached several tentative agreements, Management has continued to take positions on a number of issues that we believe could, among other things, negatively impact your working conditions at the hospital, your financial security and patient safety. We are extremely disappointed that Management has chosen to attack its RNs and the contract at a time when it should be building relationships with its nurses who have stood by the Hospital over the last several very rocky years. Here is where we are on some of major issues that remain on the table:

WAGES

The wages for nurses at WGH are below those of WSNA nurses at nearby facilities. WSNA has proposed wage increases to make WGH more competitive in recruiting and retaining nurses. Management has proposed that nurses would get a guaranteed across-the-board wage increase of only 1.75% over three years. This guaranteed increase would make wages at WGH even LESS competitive over the next few years because WSNA-area hospitals have agreed to much larger guaranteed wage increases. Moreover, under Management’s proposal, nurses would not receive any retroactive pay for the period since the current contract expired on March 31, 2015. When St. Joseph’s, United General and Island Hospital recently settled their contracts after their expiration dates, Hospital leadership did the right thing and agreed to retroactive compensation. WGH Management thinks differently and wants to take financial advantage of prolonged negotiations.

Management is even going one bold step further and proposing to condition the nurses’ non-guaranteed wage increases on the Hospital meeting operating margin targets and the nurses meeting certain unspecified performance targets. If the Hospital doesn’t meet these goals, nurses will not get their full potential wage increases. We can only assume that Management believes that WGH nurses have all the tools and staffing support for the Hospital to meet these goals. Meanwhile, nurses tell us about staffing problems at WGH, and Management refuses to agree to substantive, meaningful approaches to staffing problems. Management fails to recognize that nurses are professionally driven and that, given the proper tools and support, provide exemplary care. Other area WSNA hospitals understand this and do not hold their nurses’ compensation hostage as part of a misguided pay practice. They guarantee full wage increases for the life of their contracts while facing similar Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement constraints as WGH. We fear that Management’s dangerous new approach to compensation will give WGH nurses yet another reason to look elsewhere for employment where they can earn a better wage and count on guaranteed wage increases that are higher than what Management is proposing. Whidbey General’s claimed financial issues are not a result of overpaying its nurses. One only has to look at the headlines of newspaper articles over the past several years to see that WGH has incurred financial harm through missteps unrelated to nursing salaries. Whidbey’s financial presentation shows money is being spent, it’s just not being allocated to one of its most valuable resources, its nursing staff. Whidbey General nurses are already being paid below area market wages. Management’s wage proposal will leave nurses even further behind in the market over the life of the contract. Recruitment and retention is of dire concern and the effect is already being seen with difficulty recruiting and the need for traveling staff. Retention has also been an issue. Additionally, working conditions and culture have changed. Nursing indicators have plummeted during the life of the contract under current nursing leadership.

INTERMITTENT REST BREAKS

Your fellow nurses on the bargaining team realize how physically and mentally demanding nursing is. Adequate rest is vital to the well-being of nurses and for the safety of our patients. The current contract requires that nurses receive an uninterrupted 15-minute rest break every four hours. Instead of ensuring proper staffing so that nurses may take uninterrupted 15-minute breaks as required by the contract, Management wants to lower the bar and allow for “intermittent” rest breaks. That’s right; instead of getting one meaningful 15-minute rest break, Management wants to give “breaks” of much shorter duration. How much “rest” do you get during a short pit-stop to the bathroom or a quick dash to drink some water? As long as these few minutes of “rest” here and there total 15 minutes in each 4-hour period, that’s all the “rest” you would be entitled to. Think about that when you are working a long, difficult shift. Think about how that could impact the quality of care that you provide to your patients.

ORIENTATION, SAFETY AND HEALTH

Your WSNA team came to the table with several common sense proposals of additional requirements to ensure proper orientation, training and equipment for nurses to do their jobs. Management says “NO” to our proposals.

Instead, Management has come to the table with proposals that erode the current contract. Management is proposing to implement an undetermined training program requiring nurses to repay money if they do not meet unknown Management criteria for successful completion. Nurses would be on the hook to the tune of thousands of dollars for not successfully completing the program (as determined by Management) or for leaving early. This is concerning. Moreover, during the last negotiations, Management agreed in writing to implement a preceptor program by January 1, 2014. Quite simply, Management failed to live up to this commitment, and WSNA was forced to utilize the grievance procedure to get Management to do what it agreed to do. Given Management’s abysmal track record with the preceptor program, we have little confidence in Management developing good training programs. It seems that Management’s approach to retention is to handcuff nurses to their jobs by forcing them to pay back thousands of dollars if they leave before completing an unspecified training program. WSNA believes recruitment and retention of competent specialty staff starts with competitive wages, good staffing, a robust education system, proper orientation and training, and the availability of the proper equipment and technology to do the job. Offering a job or training that comes with the danger of repayment of thousands of dollars is a deterrent, not an incentive. We should focus on an environment that makes nurses WANT to stay at Whidbey General Hospital and not make them feel that they HAVE to stay.

STAFFING

WSNA has proposed that staffing levels be negotiated, determined and placed into the contract. Management has said “NO.” Staffing continues to be an issue. WSNA has filed a complaint with the Department of Health for the Hospital’s failure to abide by the modest requirements of the Nurse Staffing law. The hospital continues to fail to follow the Nurse Staffing law. Unsafe staffing puts your license at risk.

DAILY OVERTIME

WSNA has proposed daily overtime for several units that currently are not on this pay system. Your peers in these departments are frequently held over beyond the end of their shifts. Unlike most of you, they do not receive overtime when Management keeps them working beyond the end of their scheduled shifts. This practice, we believe, leads to inappropriate or over scheduling of patients. Nurses deserve predictability and a reasonable expectation that their shifts will end on time so they can go home to their families and life outside of work. Management has said NO to a reasonable solution that is afforded to most of the nurses at the hospital.

JOB POSTINGS

The hospital wants to handcuff you to a new position should you change shifts or positions, stripping you of your ability to move for months to a more suitable position should one open up. Why would you be expected to forfeit your seniority and right to a position for a period of time? Why would the hospital want you to stay tied to a position that may not be a good fit?

Please stay tuned for further updates and information on how to stay informed and involved. Tell Management to stop the attacks and give us a fair contract now so that we all can focus on the practice of nursing!

If you have not already done so, please click here to fill out the survey.

Your negotiation team has been working hard on your behalf to represent you at the bargaining table and now they need 15 minutes of your time. Don’t leave your team to guess what you are thinking. Please follow the link provided and complete this survey no later than June 5, 2015. Please watch for further negotiation updates to follow. YOUR VOICE is important! If you have questions or are unable to access the survey, please contact your Nurse Representative, Sara Frey at 206.575.7979 ext 3039 sfrey@wsna.org

Your negotiation team,

Dori Painter, Kathy Cox, Gwen Parrick, Laura Black, Taylor Little, PC Cable, Bonnie Garcia, and Ann Bell


Important — Back Pay


WSNA recently grieved and won a grievance involving non-payment of Preceptor Pay which nurses are entitled to under 8.8 of the CBA. You may be entitled to back pay. If you have served as a preceptor at any time between January 1, 2014 to present and have not been paid preceptor pay while serving as a preceptor, please contact me with the dates and hours you served as a preceptor. A nurse is a preceptor when, “planning, organizing, implementing, and evaluating the new skill development of a nurse.” An example would be teaching conscious sedation to a nurse. This also includes precepting of students whose instructor is not on the unit doing the teaching. Please respond no later than May 31, 2015. Moving forward, be sure to record preceptor pay on your time card. Contact WSNA or your Grievance Officer if pay is denied.


***REMINDER*** Local Unit Meeting and Negotiation Update


NOW is the time to BE INFORMED. Please join us for important updates on negotiations and other issues that may affect your working conditions. See you there!

Your Negotiation Team - Dori Painter, Kathy Cox, Gwen Parrick, Laura Black, Taylor Little, PC Cable, Bonnie Garcia, and Ann Bell

  • BOARD ROOM
  1. MAY 4, 2015 - 1:30p – 2:30p
  2. May 4, 2015 - 7:30p – 8:30p
  3. May 5, 2015 - 7:30a-8:30a

Protecting Your Rights!


Imagine you are a nurse who has been disciplined or terminated and your employer refuses to provide the documents to support their allegations. WSNA is troubled that Whidbey General Hospital has refused to provide information in such a case as well as other requested information. Therefore, we have filed an Unfair Labor Practice with the Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC).

Please join us for a Local Unit meeting in the Board Room to hear updates about this important topic as well as important negotiations updates.

May 4, 2015 – 1:30pm - 2:30pm, 7:30pm – 8:30pm or
May 5, 2015 – 7:30am - 8:30am


Negotiations Update


Your negotiation team just wrapped up our 5th session and is disappointed to report that Management came to the last 2 sessions with new and shocking proposals that would have a detrimental effect on your working conditions. NOW is the time to BE INFORMED. Here are the latest Management proposals:

  • Potential Wage REDUCTIONS. Management has proposed that it be able to try to REDUCE your current wages during the life of the contract.
  • Tying wages to hospital’s operating margins and nurse metrics. Nurses are not responsible for the Hospital’s current economic state [the Hospital pays its nurses below-market wages] or the poor patient satisfaction scores, yet management wants to tie your wages to unspecified nursing metrics. Those numbers have plummeted over the past years under current leadership.
  • The hospital wants to handcuff you to a new position should you change shifts or positions, stripping you of your ability to move for six months to a more suitable position should one open up .
  • The hospital does not want to pay daily overtime to some nurses even though they frequently hold them over their scheduled shifts.
  • The hospital does not want to provide for uninterrupted breaks and instead wants intermittent breaks because it will “help them with staffing”! This is a safety concern and erodes your current contract which provides for uninterrupted breaks.
  • The hospital wants to force nurses to repay training (up to $6,000 and perhaps more) if they don’t meet hospital determined criteria for successfully completing programs. This is concerning, especially in light of the fact that the hospital has been unable to execute a functioning preceptor program which was bargained for in the current contract.
  • Management has said “NO” to our common-sense proposals to make sure nurses are adequately trained and oriented and have the proper equipment to do their jobs safely.

NOW is the time to get involved. Please plan on attending one of the follow information sessions in the Board Room for further updates: May 4, 2015 - 1:30p – 2:30p, 7:30p – 8:30p or May 5, 2015 – 7:30a-8:30a. Our next session is Monday, April 20th. Please watch your mail, email and Local Unit webpage for further updates. We will see everyone at the meetings in early May.

Your 2015 Negotiation Team.


Negotiations Update


Your team met again with Management on 3/26 and 3/31 for negotiations. Our next sessions are scheduled for 4/13 and 4/20.

We were successful in seeing Management withdraw several proposals that would have made it easier for management to fire nurses.

Wages continue to be a difficult subject. Despite being underpaid relative to area hospitals, Management has proposed wage increases of 0% for year one, 0% for year two and 0.75% for year three. This follows the current CBA which had minimal pay increases. Your team believes the hospital’s financial issues are not related to paying nurses a fair wage. The current proposal makes recruitment and retention difficult at best.

Please watch for further updates and information about how you can support your negotiation team!
Ann Bell, PC Cable, Taylor Little, Bonnie Garcia, Laura Black, Kathy Cox, Dori Painter and Gwen Parrick.


Local Unit Meetings Notice Tuesday, March 17th & Wednesday, March 18th


Negotiations Update & Solidarity Meeting

Two sessions in and your team needs you to know what’s already happened.

  • How do you keep in the loop about what’s happening at the bargaining table?
  • Do you want to know what administration proposed?
  • How can you make a difference?

Step 1: Show up to one of the following meetings to hear an update and find out what step 2 is.

Tues, 3/17:
1530-1630 in Conf. Rm. B
1930-2030 in Conf. Rm. B

Wed, 3/18:
0730-0830 in Board Rm.

Be proactive and get your information directly from our negotiating team members.


Negotiations Update


  • Negotiations have started. Your team members are Dori Painter, Kathy Cox, Gwen Parrick, Laura Black, Taylor Little, PC Cable, Bonnie Garcia, and Ann Bell.
  • We need YOUR HELP! Please be sure that we have your correct home and email address to ensure you get timely updates and to find out what you can do to support your team during this process!
  • Your local unit webpage will have the most up-to-date information. CHECK IT OFTEN! There may be times that information is emailed or posted there and there will not be a mailing.
  • First session:
  1. We gave management our initial proposal
  2. We have a lot of tough issues to work through
  3. WGH’s CFO presented a financial report
  4. Management has stated that they will respond next session
  5. Our next session is March 10, 2015

Plan on attending a Local Unit Meeting for further updates:

  • Tues. 3/17 - 1530-1630 in Conf. Rm. B
  • Tues. 3/17 - 1930-2030 in Conf. Rm. B
  • Wed. 3/18 - 0730-0830 in Board Rm.

Local Unit Meetings Notice Tuesday, March 17th & Wednesday, March 18th


Negotiations Update & Solidarity Meeting

Our team needs every nurse behind us, staying informed, and active!

Do you want to know how negotiations are progressing?

Do you want to know how to get involved to support our team in achieving a fair contract?

Step 1: Show up to one of the following meetings to hear an update and find out what step 2 is.

Tues, 3/17:
1530-1630 in Conf. Rm. B
1930-2030 in Conf. Rm. B

Wed, 3/18:
0730-0830 in Board Rm.

Show up and help make a statement that RNs stand united at Whidbey General!