Get answers to the most frequently asked questions, find links to the best resources, and see the latest updates from WSNA related to COVID-19. Information is changing constantly, and we're updating this page on an ongoing basis.
Please take a moment to review the low census language in article 11.2 to ensure that all nurses are equitably rotated. If you are assigned a mandatory low census day because you have the least amount of low census, this does not mean that you have to continue taking low census until you “catch up” with your colleagues. You take your turn and go to the bottom of the list.
11.2 Low Census 11.2 Low Census. The Employer retains the right to determine which nursing units may be combined either prior to or after the start of shift, for purposes of low census. For filling regularly scheduled staffing needs, the Employer will use its best efforts to give priority to regular full-time and part-time nurses working up to their scheduled FTEs over per diem, full and part-time nurses working above their scheduled FTEs and/or registry nurses, provided the full-time or part-time nurse is available and skill, ability, experience, competency or qualifications are not overriding factors. Within this context, the following guidelines apply to the normal order in which nurses are to be called off due to low census:
1. Nurses working at an overtime or premium rate of pay during a non-regularly scheduled shift. 2. Volunteers. Voluntary low census granted to individual nurses will be subject to staffing needs on the unit. 3. Agency and traveler nurses. 4. Per diem nurses. 5. Nurses working in excess of their scheduled FTE at their straight time rate of pay. 6. Nurses working during their regularly scheduled shift.
Placement on mandatory low census will be rotated equitably among such nurses based on total number of low census hours within a six (6) month period, provided that skill, ability, experience, competence or qualifications are not overriding factors.
Nurses will also be offered the option to float to areas where they are needed and qualified as determined by the Employer on the basis of relevant criteria.
Mandatory low census will be limited to no more than forty-eight ( 48) hours per nurse per six (6) month period of January-June or July-December. Hours count toward the mandatory low census maximum only when low census is assigned pursuant to Paragraph 6 above. Nurses who miss a scheduled shift on a unit treated as “closed” due to a holiday shall be treated as being on voluntary low census.
Labor & Industries — Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) #
In March WSNA filed a complaint with DOSH regarding:
Reuse and sharing of PPE such as PAPRs without adequate cleaning per manufacturer guidelines.
Nurses were directed to remove mask prior to leaving patient rooms.
Lack of training on proper donning and doffing
WSNA facilitated 12 interviews with the DOSH Industrial Hygienist and our RNs. As the COVID pandemic evolved, instructions to staff by administration changed frequently. It quickly became evident that there was a lack of preparation and education which affected your working conditions. Recommendations from the CDC and DOH changed frequently, if not daily.
The investigation has concluded, and DOSH will be issuing their formal notice to St. Joe’s. We have requested a copy of the Citation and Notice as soon as it becomes available.
COVID and SABBATICAL Memorandums of Agreement (MOA) #
In April, together with our SEIU 1199NW brothers and sisters, we began negotiating terms and conditions for nurses who may be impacted by COVID. This included pay protection through the end of April, lifting PTO caps, the addition of 80 hours of PTO, leaves for nurses in high-risk groups, and limits on floating. We successfully reached agreement on April 10, 2020.
Since early May, we have been negotiating terms and conditions surrounding the employer soliciting interest for sabbaticals and early retirement. Despite multiple tele-meetings, we have not been successful in reaching an agreement. We presented a proposal on May 13 and we have yet to receive a counter proposal.
To ensure the rights of those who were being considered for the sabbatical, we wanted to lock in protections, such as how you would be recalled to work if needed, that seniority would be the prevailing factor, how much advance notice would be required for return to work, and that nurses would be restored to their FTE and shift.
We continued to press on management to grant unemployment to those nurses who were volunteering for sabbaticals via the Shared Work Program through Employment Securities Division (ESD). The employer refused because they claim that they are self-insured for unemployment benefits and it would cost too much. As our meetings continued, other cuts were implemented including cuts to executive pay and mandatory reductions in FTEs for non-represented employees or spending down PTO balances. The employer stated that the financial outlook wasn’t as bleak as expected. They have communicated that they have no plans for layoffs.
We, your Local Unit Officers, continue to meet bimonthly with management for Conference Committee to bring forward issues that you have communicated to us, your Local Unit Officers. Our last meeting was via tele-conference on May 13, 2020. The purpose of the committee is to foster improved communications between the Employer and the nursing staff and to discuss and improve professional nursing practices in the Medical Center.
We express our condolences to the family of Kurt Julian, an Evergreen RN, who recently died after contracting COVID. Many have expressed their heartfelt condolences to his family, and we acknowledge the heartbreak that his colleagues have faced over losing one of their own who gave so much. This is a message from our WSNA President:
“We are devastated to hear about Kurt’s death. We know he was a good and thoughtful man. He was on the frontlines battling this pandemic for his community and colleagues. Kurt showed heroism in his professional practice. He put his own life on the line to care for patients through this COVID 19 virus. EvergreenHealth nurses, his family and friends have experienced a painful loss. The loss of one of our own registered nurses is devastating. We will miss him. It is with heartfelt sadness, we send blessings to all who have been touched by Kurt’s life and affected by his loss in our community.” In Sympathy, Lynnette Vehrs, President, WSNA
If your manager wants an investigatory interview: You have a right to representation.
An investigatory interview is when you are questioned by your manager or director about any issue that you are involved with that could possibly lead to disciplinary action.
This can include tardiness, overtime, patient complaints, peer complaints, etc. You should ask at the beginning of the meeting, “Is this a meeting that can lead to disciplinary action?” If they answer “Yes” then you have the right to ask for representation. If they say “No” and indicate that you don’t need anyone, listen carefully to what is being discussed. If it starts to feel like it could lead to discipline, you have the right to invoke your Weingarten rights.
Under the Supreme Court’s Weingarten decision, when an investigatory interview occurs, the following rules apply:
The employee must make a clear request for union representation before or during the interview. The employee cannot be punished for making this request. (Note: Do not ask the employer, “do I need union representation?” It is up to you to make the statement that you want union representation.) Remember, management is not an appropriate representative, so if they offer you the nursing supervisor or someone else to sit with you, that is not adequate.
After the employee makes the request, the employer must choose among three options. The employer must either:
Grant the request and delay questioning until the union representative arrives and has a chance to consult privately with the employee; or
Deny the request and end the interview immediately; or
Give the employee a choice of: 1) having the interview without representation, or 2) ending the interview.
If the employer denies the request for union representation and continues to ask questions, this is an unfair labor practice and the employee has the right to refuse to answer. The employee cannot be disciplined for a refusal to answer questions without union representation.
Take care and Stay Safe!
In Unity from your Local Unit Officers, Laura Bayes, Co-Chair; Shari Holst, Treasurer; Geri Falacy, Secretary; Rhonda Tull, Grievance Officer; Robin Cully, Grievance Officer; Grace Schackel, Grievance Officer; Tracy Pullar, Communications; Susannah Sharp, Communications; Darlyce Jerde, Communications; Ryan Willis, Membership
If you find yourself in a situation that you believe creates unsafe conditions for patients or for you, you should complete a Staffing Complaint / ADO Form as soon as possible.
By completing the form, you will help make the problem known to management, creating an opportunity for the problem to be addressed. Additionally, you will be documenting the facts, which may be helpful to you later if there is a negative outcome.
WSNA also uses your ADO forms to track the problems occurring in your facility. When you and your coworkers take the important step of filling out an ADO form, you are helping to identify whether there is a pattern of unsafe conditions for you or your patients at your facilities. This information is used by your conference committee, staffing committee, and WSNA labor staff to improve your working conditions.
If called into a meeting with management, read the following to management when the meeting begins:
If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, I respectfully request that my union representative be present at this meeting. Without representation present, I choose not to participate in this discussion.