MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital


Tentative Agreement reached - negotiating team recommends a YES!

TCGEN1

After 9 bargaining sessions, the last one being 12 hours long, we have reached a tentative agreement with the hospital. Huge thanks to the hundreds of you who wrote messages on the dozens of posters. It made a big impact. Thanks to everyone who buttoned and stickered up as well, including our non-nurse colleagues at TG. Let’s thank them as well. And now for the news you’ve been waiting for.

  • Wage increases of 4.5% on Jan. 1, 2020; 4% in 2021; 3.5% in 2022. Having more wage increases earlier means more money for us all each year following.
  • New step 31 and 32
  • $1 BSN, MSN or PhD premium
  • Additional $4/hr standby pay for call beyond 60 hours in a pay period
  • In-house tiered float pool
  • Improved grievance language that protects your rights
  • Night shift annual bonus up to $1500 for RNs with 4 years experience
  • Med Surg staffing ratios of 1:5 with no LPN teams
  • Neonatal transport team no longer exempt from rest between shifts premium
  • New incentive pay program
  • New Baylor weekend shifts for peri-operative services

We know that these are provisions and gains achieved not without tradeoffs. MultiCare would not back down on their requirement of 0.75 FTE to be full-time benefits eligible for new hires after Jan. 1, 2020. All existing MultiCare employees are grandfathered in to maintain this benefit at 0.6 FTE. We also agreed to their proposal of sharing the cost of monthly medical premium increases. We crunched the numbers, and the increases in wages and premiums far outweigh these costs.

Lastly, we want to say that we fought until the bitter end to persuade management to increase the rest between shifts premium for nurses taking call for less than eight hours. They would not budge on this and withdrawing this proposal was a choice that we reluctantly made to bring this otherwise great package proposal to the members for a vote.

Contract Ratification Vote:

Monday, Dec. 16, 2019
Classroom 1 on Commencement
6:30 - 8:30 a.m.
2 - 4 p.m.
6 - 8 p.m.

Your bargaining team,

Ally Bure, OR (not pictured); Charlene Sole, ER; Brenda Bowhay, Mother Baby; Cherie Griffith, Med/Surg; Michelle Stevenson, PCU; Danielle O’Toole, ICU; Liz Leske, Peri-Anesthesia; CJ Johnston, ER; Kayla Dougherty, NICU; Jess Oyler, OR

Questions? Contact WSNA Nurse Representative Sydne James at sjames@wsna.org.

TCGEN2

Contract negotiation update

Hitting the gym

Wednesday, Nov. 20 was our 8th contract bargaining session. We gave them a comprehensive proposal showing substantial movement. They did not reciprocate. We are incredibly disappointed with their response to our package proposal.

We want to work together on this contract and are moving closer to the middle to get a deal. They are barely moving, and where we are now is not a contract we would recommend to you for a ‘yes’ vote.

Our next bargaining session is Dec. 6. It is time for you to get involved.

Ally Bure, OR; Charlene Sole, ER; Brenda Bowhay, Mother Baby; Cherie Griffith, Med/Surg; Michelle Stevenson, PCU; Danielle O’Toole, ICU; Liz Leske, Peri-Anesthesia; CJ Johnston, ER; Kayla Dougherty, NICU; Jess Oyler, OR

Questions? Contact WSNA Nurse Representative Sydne James at sjames@wsna.org.

Help us help you

You asked for it, you got it. We invite you to join us for what is likely the most important bargaining session to date, on Wednesday, Nov. 20 at La Quinta Inn. To attend as an observer, you must RSVP.

Your attendance will help us to get the best contract we can get.

In addition, if you have not done so, please complete the 2-minute rest break survey:

The survey closes at 4 p.m. on Nov. 19.

For questions or to RSVP for Nov. 20, email WSNA Nurse Rep Sydne James at sjames@wsna.org.

Contract bargaining update #7

Early session caucus

On Wednesday, Nov. 13, we met with TG for negotiation session #7.

  • We discussed an incentive payment plan that would entail incentive payments paid for that shift regardless of other work hours during the same week.
  • We are very close to finalizing language on an in-house float pool.
  • We continue to press for improvement in rest-between shifts language, ACC staffing ratios, and language around workplace violence
  • We remain far apart on wages and other economic issues, including shift differentials and standby pay.
  • Other issues on the table are BSN premium and improved staffing that would allow us to take our earned PTO.
  • TG has proposals that would allow per diem RNs to be able to sign up for extra shifts before us, that would make us share 50% of healthcare premium increases, as well as the change from 0.6 to 0.75 full-time benefits eligible change for all new hires.

What can you do to help us get the best contract? Any or all of these:

  1. If you have not already done so, take the two-minute rest break survey now.
  2. Wear your Better Together sticker or button on Nov 20 (Nov 19 for night shift);
  3. Join us for our next bargaining session, Wed. Nov 20. Contact WSNA Nurse Rep Sydne James with questions or to RSVP. sjames@wsna.org
  4. Follow us on the TG RN secret facebook page and share posts with others. Email Sydne James to get an invite.

We all know that you support us and our efforts. We are at that point in which you need to show TG that you support us.

Ally Bure, OR; Charlene Sole, ER; Brenda Bowhay, Mother Baby; Cherie Griffith, Med/Surg; Michelle Stevenson, PCU; Danielle O’Toole, ICU; Liz Leske, Peri-Anesthesia; CJ Johnston, ER; Kayla Dougherty, NICU; Jess Oyler, OR

Contract bargaining update #6

Nov 8 negot team

On Friday, Nov. 8, we met with TG for contract bargaining session #6.

We passed counter proposals to management and are waiting for responses from them.

Tacoma General’s attorney has left her position to take a job with another company. Laura Edwards, Director of Labor and Employee Relations, is the new negotiator for TG. She has assured us that she will continue in the spirit of collaborative negotiations and will work toward getting a tentative agreement in a timely manner.

They seem firm on their medical proposal to change full-time benefits eligible from 0.6 to 0.75 for new hires going forward (after Jan. 1, 2020).

If you have not already done so, take the two-minute rest break survey now. Your input will help us with negotiations.

Don’t forget, you are invited to join us for negotiations. Next scheduled dates are Nov. 13 and 20 at La Quinta in Tacoma. If you want to attend the morning or afternoon session (or both), RSVP to WSNA Nurse Rep Sydne James. sjames@wsna.org

In solidarity, because we are all

Logo better together box

Ally Bure, OR; Charlene Sole, ER; Brenda Bowhay, Mother Baby; Cherie Griffith, Med/Surg; Michelle Stevenson, PCU; Danielle O’Toole, ICU; Liz Leske, Peri-Anesthesia; CJ Johnston, ER; Kayla Dougherty, NICU; Jess Oyler, OR

Contract bargaining update

On Monday, Oct. 28, we had our 5th contract bargain session with TG.

We spoke at length about improving staffing in med/surg and the PCUs and about our proposal for a BSN/MN/MSN premium. We are close to finalizing language on an in-house tiered float pool and a 24-hour weekend (Baylor) shift for the OR and peri-anesthesia.

Thanks to everyone who answered our one-question survey about TG’s proposal to change full-time benefits eligible from 0.6 to 0.75 for new hires. (The vast majority of respondents do not support this proposal.)

Be on the lookout for a rest break survey coming out soon. We need your response to help us with negotiations.

To hear details of negotiations, come get the Down and Dirty in 30. It’s a 30-minute update on negotiations to date. Monday, Nov. 4 in MMC – 4 (conference room on 4th floor Rainier) at 5:30 p.m. or 7:45 p.m. You will hear from us and the WSNA attorney representing our interests.

And, in case you didn’t know, you are invited to join us for negotiations. Next scheduled dates are Nov. 8, 13 and 20. If you want to attend the morning or afternoon session (or both), RSVP to WSNA Nurse Rep Sydne James at sjames@wsna.org.

We hope to see you soon, because while we are working really hard on your behalf to get the best contract, we are

Logo better together box

Ally Bure, OR; Charlene Sole, ER; Brenda Bowhay, Mother Baby; Cherie Griffith, Med/Surg; Michelle Stevenson, PCU; Danielle O’Toole, ICU; Liz Leske, Peri-Anesthesia; CJ Johnston, ER; Kayla Dougherty, NICU; Jess Oyler, OR

How is break relief working on your unit?

In the spring of 2019, WSNA officers at TG began meeting with TG managers to work on implementing full break relief throughout the hospital. We started by collecting survey data for how breaks are working on your unit. Now it’s time to find out if the new break relief system is working for you. We will compare data collected earlier this year with this new data. If you did not complete the survey this spring, we still want your input now.

Please take this two-minute survey before midnight on Nov. 20 (and encourage your colleagues to take it too). All responses are confidential unless you wish to be contacted.

When you complete the survey, you will be directed to a WSNA web page to read about our new online staffing complaint form. This form serves many purposes. First and foremost, it is a tool to track staffing issues. Every submitted form is discussed at the monthly staffing committee meetings. WSNA officers use these submitted forms to fix staffing issues at TG.

  1. Read about the form
  2. “Launch” a form
  3. Complete a practice version to see how easy (and quick) it is!

Questions? Contact WSNA Nurse Representative Sydne James at sjames@wsna.org.

Down and dirty in 30

Logo better together box

Get the down and dirty in 30!

It's a 30-minute update on contract negotiations with members of the team and the WSNA attorney representing the nurses for bargaining.

Q&A after the updates.

Monday, Nov. 4
5:30 p.m. and 7:45 p.m.
Room MMC 4
(4th floor Rainier conference room)

Questions? Contact WSNA Nurse Rep Sydne James
sjames@wsna.org

Contract negotiation update

TG crew

We met with Tacoma General on Wednesday, Oct. 23 for our fourth contract bargaining session.

Both sides are taking the time to hear the rationale and need for proposals. We expressed to management our concerns about workplace violence and safety issues, addressed by our proposal to them for a workplace violence committee.

As a team, we had in-depth discussion on two proposals: a Baylor weekend shift for OR and peri-operative services, and a tiered in-house float pool.

Our next bargaining session is Monday, Oct. 28. We plan to discuss staffing ratios, healthcare benefits, and BSN premium.

We invite you to join as an observer. Generally the morning session will be 9:30 a.m. to noon and the afternoon session will be from 1:30 to 5 p.m. Space is limited for observers. If you would like to attend either or both sessions at the La Quinta in Tacoma, you must RSVP.

To RSVP, to join the TG RN secret Facebook group, or if you have questions or comments, email WSNA Nurse Representative Sydne James at sjames@wsna.org.

Better together,

Your 2019 WSNA Contract Bargaining Team

Ally Bure, OR; Charlene Sole, ER; Brenda Bowhay, Mother Baby; Cherie Griffith, Med/Surg; Michelle Stevenson, PCU; Danielle O’Toole, ICU; Liz Leske, Peri-Anesthesia; CJ Johnston, ER; (not pictured: Kayla Dougherty, NICU; Jess Oyler, OR)

Negotiation update

We met with Tacoma General on Monday, Oct. 14 for our third contract bargaining session.

IMG 0222

Both parties exchanged all remaining initial proposals. Management agreed to have all initial proposals on the table by the third session and they did so.

We are diving deeper into several issues, including an in-house float pool proposal and changes to medical benefits. Management has proposed that for RNs hired at TG after Jan. 1, 2020, the healthcare insurance premiums for full-time eligible change from 0.6 to 0.75 FTE. This is the proposed take-away that we expected.

TG nurses sent management a strong message of support for us today with all your messages of support. Thank you for that!

Other news is that both parties agreed to open negotiations. This means that TG RNs can sit in as observers. Generally the morning session will be 9:30 a.m. to noon and the afternoon session will be from 1:30 to 5 p.m. Space is limited for observers. If you would like to attend either or both sessions at the La Quinta in Tacoma, you must RSVP.

We are scheduled to negotiate on Oct. 23 and 28. To RSVP for negotiations, to join the TG RN secret Facebook group or if you have questions or comments, email WSNA Nurse Representative Sydne James at sjames@wsna.org.

Better together,

Your 2019 WSNA Contract Bargaining Team
Charlene Sole, ER; Shana Gardner, Resource; Liz Leske, Peri-Anesthesia; CJ Johnston, ER; Michelle Stevenson, PCU; Kayla Dougherty, NICU; Danielle O’Toole, ICU; Cherie Griffith, Med/Surg; Jess Oyler, OR

Contract negotiation update

Session 1 team photo

We met with management on Thursday, Sept. 5 and gave them the bulk of our proposals. Our priorities include wages, staffing, shift differential and workplace safety. TG did not present any proposals to us today. Both sides agreed to ground rules.

Our closing message to management was explaining our theme of “better together;” we enter these negotiations in a spirit of collaboration.

Bettog

We want to thank everyone who supported us by wearing buttons and posting pictures to the WSNA secret Facebook group. Keep it up!

Better together,
Your 2019 WSNA Contract Bargaining Team
Jess Oyler, OR, Danielle O’Toole, ICU, CJ Johnston, ER, Michelle Stevenson, PCU, Charlene Sole, ER, Liz Leske, Peri-Anesthesia, Shana Gardner, Resource, Angie Hatcher, CVICU, Brenda Bowhay, Mother/Baby, Ally Bure, OR, Cherie Griffith, Med/Surg, Kayla Dougherty, NICU.

To join the TG RN secret Facebook group, or if you have questions or comments, email WSNA Nurse Representative Sydne James at sjames@wsna.org.

Newsletter August 2019

The August 2019 newsletter has just gone out by email and in the post. Watch for it to arrive in your mailbox. This newsletter features:

  • Meet the 2019 WSNA Negotiation Team - see pictures and read bios of the team members
  • Better Together pre-negotiation meeting - This is our last chance to speak up before our proposals are presented to TG on Sept. 5. Join us Sept. 4 in MMC3 from 4-5 p.m. / 5:30-6:30 p.m. / 7:45-8:45 p.m.
  • Grievance corner - read about current grievances
  • Shhh..it's a secret - a secret Facebook group
  • Rest break implementation update
  • Online staffing complaint form - Use it!

Do you have ideas for the WSNA Tacoma General newsletter or want to contribute something? Contact your WSNA Nurse Rep Sydne James, sjames@wsna.org.

Better together

Logo better together box
TCGEN crew

We are joining together to support our RN contract negotiation team

Join members of the bargaining team and hear our priorities based on our survey input. This is our last chance to be heard before our proposals are presented to TG on Sept. 5.

Wednesday, Sept 4 in MMC3 (near the atrium giftshop)
Times: 4-5 p.m. / 5:30-6:30 p.m. / 7:45-8:45 p.m.

Questions? Contact Sydne James, WSNA Nurse Rep at sjames@wsna.org.

We are getting ready to negotiate our contract

Join us for an opportunity to meet members of the 2019 contract negotiation team and join our Contract Action Team.

When: Tuesday, July 30, 7:30-9:30 a.m.

Where: ILD TG Training Room 1, 4th floor Commencement (close to ICU)


The CAT nurses will work in conjunction with the negotiation team to decide and plan actions and events for all TG RNs to show support for our negotiation team. Think buttons and stickers, t-shirts, solidarity posters, car signs, unity dinner, rally, etc. The CAT then works with the unit reps to implement these actions.

This is a fun and active group to join. If you have questions or want to join the Contract Action Team and are unable to attend this meeting, contact our WSNA nurse representative Sydne James at sjames@wsna.org.

Low Census Reporting Alert

We are working hard on getting full break relief throughout TG as quickly as possible, but it will take time. For now, TG has agreed to not low census any RN without first ensuring that a plan is in place for all RNs to receive their breaks.

We want you to notify us if you or someone on your unit was sent home for VLC or MLC if:

1. Not all RN breaks have been taken

OR

2. There was no plan in place for that day to allow for all breaks to be taken.

OR

3. If the unit is not staffed according to the approved staffing plan.


If this occurs, email your WSNA nurse representative, Sydne James at sjames@wsna.org.

Have you tried using the new Staffing Complaint/ADO form? Fill it out for all staffing issues, including missed breaks or denied PTO and for other issues such as missing equipment. It only takes a few minutes to complete.

Questions? Contact WSNA Nurse Rep Sydne James at sjames@wsna.org or 206-575-7979, ext. 3004.

Monthly RN power hour

Negotiations are great and all, but how do they actually work?

Come to Negotiations 101 to find out for yourself.

Thursday, June 20

Two meetings starting at 5:45 p.m. or 7:45 p.m.

Room CR-MMC 4 (Rainier Wing)

WSNA officers and the WSNA Nurse Rep will explain how these negotiations work, will share past experiences in negotiations, what we can expect moving forward and important tactics to winning a good contract.

Please be on time so you do not miss any of this eye-opening information.

Questions? Contact WSNA Nurse Representative Sydne James at sjames@wsna.org.

April 2019 Newsletter

April 2019 Newsletter is available online.

This newsletter covers:

  • Nurses Week
  • Contract Negotiations are on the way
  • TG RN Power Hour
  • WSNA Spotlight Member Amy Schneider
  • Grievance corner - recent wins
  • Contract Spotlight - Low Census
  • Shh...it's a secret...
  • Rest break implementation roll-out
  • Certification premium update
  • New online staffing complaint form

This newsletter has also been sent out to all members by mail.

New online ADO forms

Not getting all of your breaks? Working short staffed or staying late? Feel like you are taking an unsafe patient assignment? Denied earned PTO?

Yes, there is something you can do about this. Fill out a Staffing Complaint / Assignment Despite Objection form today.

  • Nurses are standing together for safe staffing and completing a Staffing Complaint/ADO form is the first step.
  • These forms can help make things better NOW and can help gather needed data as we prepare for contract negotiations.
  • This new online form can be accessed through your phone making it simple and quick.
  • Copies of the submitted online form will automatically be sent to you, your local unit chair, co/vice chair, staffing committee co-chairs, WSNA nurse rep and manager (if you designate).

You can find the online form at wsna.org/ADO. For any questions, your nurse representative is here to help. Contact WSNA Nurse Rep Sydne James, BSN, RN at sjames@wsna.org or at 206-575-7979, ext. 3004.

Cafeteria time

Three dates and times:

  • Monday, April 1, 6-8 p.m.
  • Thursday, April 4, noon-2 p.m.
  • Wednesday, April 10, 5-6:45 p.m.

Stop by with your questions or concerns and tell me, your WSNA nurse rep, what are your top issues as we get ready for contract negotiations!

You could be this month’s winner of WSNA swag and a Starbucks gift card.

Dama-Bradley

Dama Bradley, RN, 7O

Colton-Bruhn

Colton Bruhn, RN, 6R

Rest break relief implementation update

WSNA RN committee members met with the TG administration on Monday, Feb. 25 for our first negotiation session to discuss implementing break relief. Both sides agreed to work on creating a pilot program in two selected units. The WSNA committee members’ decisions are driven by input from the TG nurses and they thank everyone who has given input to this process thus far. We are planning to meet in March with the intent of getting the pilot programs up and running.

WSNA Core Committee members are Danielle O’Toole, ICU (WSNA Co-Chair), Liz Leske, PACU-Baker (WSNA Secretary), Shana Gardner, ICU (WSNA Treasurer) and Charlene Sole, ED.

Questions? Contact WSNA Nurse Rep Sydne James at sjames@wsna.org or at 206-575-7979, ext. 3004.

Rest break relief implementation

Tacoma General nurses have achieved a major legal victory. Tacoma General must stop using the break buddy system and implement full break relief for nurses. WSNA has demanded implementation, and by agreeing to our first demand to post break relief positions, TG’s new management team has taken a tentative first step.

TG’s management has invited the nurses to form a committee to implement break relief. The committee is comprised of TG nurses, WSNA officers and WSNA counsel. The committee will work closely with each unit’s nurses to be sure that whatever break relief system is adopted for a particular unit reflects the wishes of that unit’s nurses.

On Jan. 17, TG nurses had the opportunity to meet with WSNA Senior Director of Labor Relations Christine Watts, WSNA Attorney David Campbell, Sydne James, your new nurse representative, and TG WSNA officers. The meeting included an update on the litigation and general agreement on the committee’s approach. More importantly, it allowed nurses from various units to discuss how to achieve meaningful breaks on their units. As expected, we found that one size does not fit all.

The committee will work to adopt a system tailored to each unit. If you hear anyone tell you how break relief will work on your unit, do not worry. Those decisions have not yet been made and you will be involved. To squelch one rumor, TG officers have heard NICU nurses’ concerns, and there is as yet no plan on what break relief changes will be made in the NICU…

We have to move fast. Please complete this four-minute assessment questionnaire to assist the committee with this important work. Without your input, we will not have your valuable perspective. Deadline to respond is Feb. 17.

Questions? Contact WSNA Nurse Representative Sydne James at sjames@wsna.org or at 206-575-7979, ext. 3004.

WSNA grievance officer training

When: Friday, Feb. 22 from 9-11 a.m.
Where: Pierce County Nurses Assoc. office (223 Tacoma Ave S, 98402)

This event is for you if:

  1. You are a WSNA elected officer or grievance officer who has not yet had this training (officers learn how to attend investigatory meetings).
  2. You have already had grievance officer training and would like a refresher.
  3. You have lots of experience with the grievance process and are willing to share your knowledge and experience with those new to the role.
  4. You have an interest in advocating for your colleagues in investigations and would like to learn more.

Your colleagues need your advocacy and support!

RNs from various Tacoma-area facilities will be attending and space is limited. You must pre-register for this training.

Register today with WSNA Nurse Rep Sydne James at SJames@wsna.org. Include your name, contact info and where you work.

Please be on time!

WSNA nurse rep cafeteria time

“First Thursday”

Feb. 7, noon-2 p.m.

Nurse Rep Sydne James will be in the cafeteria to hear your concerns and ideas. It’s not too soon to start thinking about contract negotiations.

Questions? Email SJames@wsna.org.

RNs versus TGH: RNs win break relief!

How do you want to see break relief addressed in your unit? How to eliminate the buddy system? WSNA attorneys need your input on how to implement these changes.

January 17 Union meeting

Room CR-MMC 6
6th Floor Commencement elevator
Pick a time below:

4-5 p.m.
6-7 p.m.
7:30-8:30 p.m.

Questions? Contact any WSNA officer or WSNA Nurse Representative Sydne James at SJames@wsna.org or 206-575-7979, ext. 3004.

Member news: 2018 December newsletter

Introducing the new WSNA nurse representative, Sydne James, BSN, RN

Sydne James

I have been an RN since 2008. My background is in Step Down, outpatient dialysis and hospice and palliative care. I started at WSNA as a nurse organizer and love being an advocate for nurses. I am excited to represent the nurses at Tacoma General and look forward to hearing from each and every one of you as to what your work issues are and your ideas of how things could be better. I am also excited to speak to nurses who are interested in learning more about WSNA at Tacoma General and who may want to get involved. There are many ways to participate and contribute and grow the nurses’ power at Tacoma General. This is how nurses will get the best contract in 2020.

Contact info: 206-575-7979, ext. 3004 and sjames@wsna.org.


Cafeteria time

Find me in the hospital cafeteria the first Thursday of every month from noon-2 p.m. It’s a great opportunity for me to hear from you on issues and concerns.


Some union history

Nurses at Tacoma General Hospital formed a union and got their first contract nearly 60 years ago. They wanted to have a voice in things related to their wages, hours and working conditions. They wanted shift differential and overtime pay. They wanted a guarantee of vacation time and sick leave. They wanted a just cause provision for discipline.

Since that contract was signed in 1959, nurses have gained a lot more benefits and we continue to make gains every time the contract is negotiated. Those gains are not gifts from the employer. They are hard fought and only achieved by the majority of members standing together and showing unwavering support for the nurse negotiation team. If you wonder why the contract isn’t better, why the nurses don’t get all the proposals they ask for, ask yourself what you have done to help. The nurse negotiation team is only as strong as the union membership at TG. A strong union is an active union.


Get involved with WSNA at Tacoma General

We have vacancies in the union leadership at Tacoma General. If you are interested or know of someone who might be, nominate yourself or them by contacting any current officer. To be an officer, you must be a member in good standing. Training is provided for all positions.

Treasurer – Duties of the treasurer include unit rep responsibilities, participating in contract negotiations and attending monthly conference committee meetings with management.

Grievance officer (multiple) – The grievance officer is trained as a liaison between the union nurses and WSNA to advise and assist in WSNA’s dealing with the employer concerning contract issues and grievances.

There are other ways to get involved besides filling a union leadership position. We are seeking multiple unit representatives for most units, membership officers (training provided), volunteers to manage a TG RN Facebook group, volunteers to help write newsletters, etc. For more information on union activism, please contact WSNA Nurse Representative Sydne James.


Membership matters

Why be active in WSNA? WSNA at Tacoma General is a grassroots union led by members. The nurses negotiate our own contracts and we are empowered to be leaders, serve on committees and participate in labor-management problem solving.

We would not have a contract if we did not have a union. Our union contract empowers us to act on important issues like safe staffing, ending mandatory overtime, addressing safety issues and receiving appropriate training.

What’s at stake is our patients’ quality of care, as well as our pay and our working conditions. Our patients will never say to us, “Nurse, I need you to be an active member of your union so that I get the care I deserve.” But it is the strength of our union that affects our patients’ care and their future.

If you are not yet a member, join today at wsna.org/membership.


Upcoming union meeting

WSNA officers at Tacoma General are scheduling monthly meetings so they can regularly hear from the nurses as to what’s happening and keep the nurses up to date. Our next meeting is Thursday, Jan. 17. There are three time options to fit your schedule: 4-5 p.m., 6-7 p.m. and 7:30-8:30 p.m. Meeting location to be determined and will be announced when we have secured a location.


Rest break lawsuit update

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. Last month, the federal district court issued an order confirming and enforcing the arbitrator’s decision.

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?

Please let me know to make sure TG is in compliance. Contact WSNA Nurse Representative Sydne James at sjames@wsna.org or at 206-575-7979, ext. 3004.


Contract spotlight on floating

By Liz Leske

Floating is usually not a voluntary choice! However, per our contract (article 6.2) it is a necessary evil; everyone must float. There are no exceptions for seniority, Charge RNs or manager’s choice. All RNs within a clinical service area (article 5.12) are required to float to the other units in that service area. In the Peri-anesthesia services area where I work, we have 3 units in our clinical service area – SASS, PACU and Baker Day Surgery Center.

Each unit has some job duties which are the same and others which are unique to their area. However, the majority of the RNs in the three departments are trained to do all (or most) of the jobs in each area. We do have some RNs who do admitting only; others are trained in PACU only. That doesn’t exempt them from floating. We just don’t float them to areas in which they have no experience. Thus, a nurse who works at SASS and does only admits would not go to PACU. But she would be expected to float to the Baker Center Admitting area if need be.

How do we decide who floats and when? We keep a calendar on the computer which is accessible to all. When an RN floats, s/he is responsible for marking that float date on the calendar. Years ago, the least senior RN on each unit floated first. Since then, each unit has been floating RNs in rotation. (According to the contract, the equitable floating rotation is least senior to most senior. When a unit gets through the entire list in turn, they would start again with least senior nurse to most senior.)

In the Peri-anesthesia services we always take volunteers first. Occasionally someone does want to float and we let them! If there are no volunteers, agency/on-call RNs are floated (provided they have the experience. We can’t float a PACU nurse to the Surgical Admit unit if she doesn’t know what to do. That would be silly).

If there are no volunteers, and no on-call/agency RNs, then we refer to the calendar. The RN who is working that day and hasn’t floated for the longest amount of days previous is the one who must go.

We also take into account skills and ability. At the Day Surgery Center we see relatively healthy patients having minor surgical procedures. If one of the RNs from Baker floats to the main PACU, she is not expected to recover a patient who has had a thoracotomy (for example). Patients are assigned to the floating nurse commensurate with her skill and competence.

So even though most of us don’t like to float, we know it is not optional. And because we float our RNs in an equitable rotation, we don’t have arguments or rancor. And we usually appreciate our own units more after spending a shift “away from home!”


A closer look at nursing committees

Our Collective Bargaining Agreement, or CBA, allows for multiple nursing committees comprised of an equal number of union nurses and nursing administration. The purpose of the committees is to discuss matters relating to nursing care, patient care, nursing practice, safety and staffing issues and standards, in-service education and benefits. Attendance at these meetings is paid at the regular rate of pay, up to 24 hours per year, depending on FTE.

We are looking for more members to sit on our nurse committees: Conference Committee, Patient Care Committee, Safety Committee, Nurse Staffing Committee, Labor/Management Benefits Committee.

If you are interested in sitting on one or more committees or would like more information, please contact WSNA Nurse Representative Sydne James.


Grievance corner

When does a problem become a grievance? Problems are grievances when they relate to a provision of the collective bargaining agreement (contract). A formal grievance filed by WSNA on behalf of a nurse must refer to the article(s) or section(s) of the contract that has been violated.

WSNA will always work with the employer to settle problems or contract violations at the lowest level. This often means we can avoid filing a grievance. Sometimes this is not possible and so the association files a grievance on behalf of the affected nurse(s). Currently, we have several open grievances. A few of them are:

  • The staffing standard in the Emergency Department is routinely exceeded.
  • Not paying shift differential for evening shift for 10-hour nurses.
  • A nurse was denied a posted position because she was out on approved leave when she applied.
  • A nurse was denied immediate access to EIT for scheduled outpatient surgery.
  • A nurse was denied preceptor premium pay under article 5.4 (c and f).

A nurse who terminated employment during her residency was denied payout of PTO/EIT.


Upcoming WSNA events

Mark your calendars for upcoming WSNA events that may interest you. Find out more about all these events (including how to register), click on the Calendar tab in the top menu banner.

Jan. 28, 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. is Advocacy Camp. The goal of WSNA’s 2019 Advocacy Camp is to educate nurses, nursing faculty and nursing students about the legislative process and about how to effectively advocate for nurses and patients when meeting with legislators. This year’s event will take place at the Red Lion Hotel in Tumwater.

Feb. 28, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. is Nurse Lobby Day. The goal of WSNA’s Lobby Day is to advance our legislative priorities that support nurses and patient safety. This event will include a morning briefing session to help participants get up-to-speed on key issues before the legislature. Time will also be spent role-playing to prepare for afternoon appointments with your legislators. After lunch, you will head up to the hill to attend meetings with your legislators. This is a great opportunity for nurses to talk with their lawmakers about key issues, such as the need for uninterrupted rest breaks, as well as funding for school nurses, nursing education faculty and public health.

May 1-3 is the Washington State Nurses Convention. This bi-annual convention is at Tulalip Casino. You have the opportunity to earn 24 CNE credits and members may get registration and hotel fees covered with local unit funds. If you are interested in taking advantage of this, contact any WSNA officer at Tacoma General as funds are limited.

Keep abreast of what’s happening with your union at Tacoma General by keeping up with this page.

WSNA demands that TG comply with court order

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.

You can read the letter WSNA sent to MultiCare demanding compliance here, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision here and arbitrator Hammond’s decision here.

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 sjames@wsna.org or at 206-575-7979, ext. 3004.

Announcing changes in WSNA nurse representative

Please welcome WSNA Nurse Representative Sydne James, BSN, RN. Beginning Monday, Dec. 3, 2018, Sydne will be taking over all new issues as they arise at Tacoma General. I will be assisting Sydne with this transition in the coming months as needed.

Sydne can be reached at SJames@wsna.org or 206-575-7979, ext. 3004.

It has been a pleasure working with all of the Tacoma General RNs over the past three years. I am continuing my work here at WSNA as a nurse representative with new assignments. I will miss the Tacoma General nurses but know you will be in good hands with Sydne.

All my best to you,

Sara Frey, JD, BSN, RN
WSNA Nurse Representative
sfrey@wsna.org

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.

WSNA demands Tacoma General comply with court order

On Aug. 13, 2018, your representatives on the Nurse Staffing Committee presented a letter to MultiCare making clear that the nurses on the Staffing Committee and WSNA expect MultiCare to comply with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ Order by ceasing all use of the break buddy system and beginning to use break relief nurses in every department of the hospital. If MultiCare continues to ignore the Court’s order, it risks being found in contempt of court. The letter was sent on the same day the parties met for Staffing Committee.

It’s been almost three years since an Arbitrator ordered TG to stop using the break buddy system and to begin using break relief nurses. For the past three years, TG has ignored that order and instead waged a costly and lengthy battle in court trying to undo the Arbitrator’s Award.

You can read a copy of the letter WSNA sent to MultiCare demanding compliance and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision.

What's happening in your unit? Have you been getting your rest breaks since the Court's decision was released. Take our survey and let us know.

What's next?

It’s been two weeks since the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision in favor of WSNA and its arbitration award prohibiting the so-called “break buddy” system and requiring the use of break relief nurses. You might be wondering what happens next. While the Court of Appeals decision is a huge victory, the fight is not quite over yet.

By next week, the Court of Appeals will issue its “mandate,” which officially transfers the case back to the District Court. The District Court will then issue a final order enforcing the arbitration award. At that point, MultiCare will be subject to a final court order and will risk contempt if it does not begin finally complying with the Arbitrator’s decision.

The wheels of justice turn slowly, but we are so close to the culmination of this long, hard fought battle for safe break relief. If MultiCare were to act sensibly rather than choosing to continue to battle in court, it would use this time before the final order is issued to make the plans it needs to make to begin scheduling, staffing and assigning a break relief nurse for every unit in the hospital, like the Arbitrator ordered it to do back in 2015.

What’s happening in your unit? Have you been getting your rest breaks since the Court’s decision was released? Let us know! Be a part of making uninterrupted rest breaks a reality across the state and complete our Rest Breaks & Overtime Survey.

Your responses will help us hold employers accountable and advocate in Olympia for stronger rest break and mandatory overtime laws.

Thank you for taking the time to help us advocate together!

U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says “NO” to break buddies at MultiCare

After years of battling in the courts over MultiCare’s unsafe use of “break buddies” to cover for nurse rest breaks, the Washington State Nurses Association, together with our members at Tacoma General Hospital, won a big victory on July 23, 2018.

The United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order rejecting MultiCare’s attempt to overturn an arbitration award which directed Tacoma General to stop using the break buddy system and to instead start using break relief nurses on every unit in the Hospital.

The decision means that, unless MultiCare tries to appeal, the arbitrator’s 2015 award will be “confirmed,” allowing WSNA to ensure that the arbitrator’s award is finally implemented.

After hearing five days of powerful testimony from nurses about their inability to safely take breaks, an Arbitrator in 2015 ordered TG to stop using the break buddy system. The Arbitrator found that MultiCare was violating a settlement agreement with WSNA by using the buddy system and failing to provide nurses with adequate relief for breaks. The settlement agreement resolved WSNA’s lawsuit against MultiCare for its failure to provide rest breaks, and involved a promise by MultiCare to adopt policies, practices or mechanisms to ensure nurses were relieved for breaks in a way that would not result in a violation of the staffing plan. Of course, the buddy system necessarily results in a violation of the staffing plan each and every time it is used. That’s why the arbitrator ordered MultiCare to stop using the buddy system and to instead use break relief nurses.

MultiCare went to court claiming that the arbitrator exceeded his authority when he ordered Tacoma General to cease using the break buddy system; MultiCare claimed that it had never agreed to give up the buddy system when it settled a rest break lawsuit with WSNA in 2013.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed. The Court acknowledged that MultiCare wanted to be able to continue using the buddy system but that WSNA would not agree to allow it to do so. The Court also concluded that, according to the arbitrator, the buddy system was “unable to meet [the conditions in the Settlement Agreement] and was ‘nonviable.’” In fact, the Court observed that “the buddy system violated the very purpose” of the settlement agreement.

You all, the nurses at TG, are simply amazing. You chose to stick together to advocate for better care and working environment policies. You stayed the course. You remained professional. You stood united in your union. WSNA is proud to partner with you in this huge win for nurses statewide. Can you imagine what we can do moving forward?

To move on to the next challenge we all know we’ll face, we need to be organized. To do that, you need to find your own place in your union. Everyone has a place at WSNA. Whether you just have time to post a bulletin board occasionally, talk to your colleagues about a hot issue or take it to the next level and run for office. If you would like to be part of this amazing group of nurses and the work they are doing, contact your officers or nurse rep and let’s get it done.

Represent your local unit!

With some recent role changes in your officer core, we are in need of additional grievance officers. Please consider joining your current officers in representing your peers in this important role.

WSNA grievance officer training

This event is for you if you have an interest in advocating for your colleagues in investigations/grievances by becoming a grievance officer.

When: Monday, May 7, 5:45 p.m.
Where: Roundtable Pizza in Burien
15730 1st Ave S
Burien, WA 98148

Burien is easily accessible from Hwy 518 off of 405 if coming from the east, via Hwy 99 and 509 if coming from the north, and from Hwy 518 if coming from I-5.

Can’t make this meeting? No problem. We still want to hear from you and can make other arrangements for training or to chat about further questions you may have.

Your colleagues need your advocacy and support!
There will be RNs from various facilities attending. We will be providing dinner and you can be reimbursed for your mileage from local unit funds if you wish.

Please RSVP today to sfrey@wsna.org or 206.575.7979, ext. 3039.

Advocacy: our professional duty and a protected right

Our nursing Code of Ethics calls upon nurses to promote and advocate for the protection of health, safety and right of our patients.

This means advocacy at the bedside for the individual patient as well as advocacy in Olympia and Washington, D.C., for public policy that promote safe and quality care.

Uninterrupted meal and rest breaks and limiting mandatory overtime means you can provide the highest quality patient care.

In addition to working to ensure that MultiCare provides real rest breaks to our nurses at Tacoma General and Good Samaritan Hospital, WSNA is also advocating for #breaks4nurses legislation in Olympia (House Bill 1715).

WSNA is aware that MultiCare and Bill Robertson released a letter to employees on Jan. 16, 2018 titled, “MultiCare Government Relations and Professional Advocacy.” In this letter, Mr. Robertson stated that prior to contacting legislators, employees must, “coordinate any potential contacts with elected official directly with Ingrid Mungia, Director of Government Relations for MultiCare Health System.” In addition, the letter instructs nurses to “inform Ingrid anytime one of these groups asks you to make contact with policymakers.”

Direct communication with your elected officials is considered by the Supreme Court to be protected concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act.

Let us be clear:

  • Nurses have the right to appeal to lawmakers and to advocate on specific issues/legislation such as our rest breaks bill.
  • Employers cannot require nurses to notify employers or coordinate response when contacting legislators.
  • Employers cannot prohibit or discriminate against nurses for advocating on issues and appealing to lawmakers.
  • Nurses cannot be required to divulge their union activities and communication to an employer.

Please contact WSNA immediately should you face any investigation or retaliation related to your protected activities.

Latest update on #breaks4nurses legislation: House passed HB 1715 which would guarantee uninterrupted meal and rest breaks, and close the mandatory overtime loophole. The bill passed 56 – 42 with bipartisan support.

It’s not too late, join us in Olympia on Monday, Jan. 22, for Nurse Legislative Day and meet with your lawmakers face-to-face!

Sara Frey, JD, BSN, RN
Tacoma General Nurse Rep
(206) 575-7979, ext. 3039
sfrey@wsna.org