Washington Hospital and Local 6 reach new tentative agreement; Union endorses for ratification

Washington Hospital’s bargaining team and representatives from ILWU, Local 6 met with the mediator for a second time on July 28.  At this meeting, both sides reached a tentative agreement that covered the remaining issues. Both parties also agreed that they would support and fully endorse the tentative agreement for ratification by both Local 6 members and the Hospital’s Board of Directors. Local 6 membership will vote on the agreement no later than Friday, August 5, 2016. Further updates will be provided on this blog as soon as they are available.

Mediator to Help Reach New Contract with Local 6

As was stated previously regarding the Local 6 negotiations, the Hospital’s bargaining team is interested in keeping everyone updated on the status of the negotiations following the membership’s failure to ratify the tentative agreements that the Hospital and the union signed on April 14.  As a follow up, a joint meeting with the Hospital’s bargaining team and the union was held on June 9, to further negotiate. Since neither side was able to reach resolution at that meeting, the Hospital asked the union whether or not the union wanted to use a mediator to help reach a new contract. On June 10, the union responded that they wished to engage in the mediation process to resolve what the union now believes are the remaining issues. To that end, the Hospital’s bargaining team and Local 6’s bargaining team agreed upon a mediator and the mediator has offered the following mediations dates: June 28, June 29 and July 8. The Hospital has informed both Local 6 and the mediator that the Hospital’s bargaining team is available to meet on June 28, 2016. The union has not yet responded with regard to its availability.

While the Hospital is still hopeful on achieving an agreement with Local 6, it is important to note that both the Hospital’s bargaining team and the union’s bargaining team actually reached an agreement settling all issues for a new contract on April 14.  When reaching this agreement, both sides indicated that they would recommend this contract to their respective constituents.  Both parties agreeing to make a positive recommendation for ratification to their constituents is exactly what happens at the conclusion of any bargaining session when final tentative agreements are signed.  In fact, at the conclusion of the bargaining session on April 14, both sides shook hands and thanked the other side for its cooperation during more than four months of bargaining.  After both sides exhibited such good will towards one another, it was disheartening to now hear the union take the position that Local 6 never actually agreed to recommend ratification to their membership of the very same tentative agreements that they signed on April 14.  The Hospital respectfully disagrees and remains hopeful that through the mediation process, an agreement can be reached and then ratified by both bargaining teams.



Union Postponed Ratification Vote Results in Rejected Tentative Agreement – Significant Wage Increases for its Members Delayed

It is with great disappointment that Washington Hospital received the news on May 26 that the members of Local 6 did not ratify the tentative agreement that the Hospital and union jointly reached on April 14. Upon reaching the tentative agreement, the union’s negotiating team conveyed to the Hospital that it would be recommending approval of the new agreement to its membership.  However, after an unusual six-week delay in providing an opportunity for its members to vote, the four-year agreement, which included a 12 percent across the board increase for most covered employees as well as a 14 percent increase for cath lab techs and senior cath lab tech positions, was rejected.

As with recent negotiations with the other bargaining units at Washington, the Hospital’s bargaining team’s focus is to ensure Washington Hospital employees are being compensated at market rates that are competitive with all other health care providers in the area.  Negotiating fair and equitable labor agreements is guided by the Washington Township Health Care District compensation policy of tandem and parity.  Simply put, the policy dictates that our employees are to be competitively paid.

On June 7, the Local 6 bargaining team provided Hospital representatives with the reasons it believed the tentative agreement had been rejected and a new set of proposals the union believed were needed for its membership to ratify the contract.  The new proposals essentially focused on increased wages above 12 and 14 percent increases already previously agreed to and recommended by Local 6 to its membership.  The new proposals by Local 6 appear to be in response to a recent settlement with CNA, which included substantial wage increases because the Hospital was, admittedly, well behind the market for compensation relative to other health care facilities throughout the Bay Area.

In response, Washington Hospital’s bargaining team presented Local 6 with a comparative wage data chart (click here for wage data) and its counterproposal (click here for WHHS counter) at its most recent bargaining session, on June 9. As shown in the comparative wage chart, the previous tentative agreement clearly demonstrates the Hospital’s commitment to the District’s guiding compensation principles.  It is the Hospital’s belief that following this policy, rather than negotiating arbitrary wage increases, provides all sides with a clear rationale for the Hospital’s compensation proposal.   To negotiate without this frame of reference would not be equitable to the rest of Washington Hospital’s employee population and therefore, not consistent with tandem and parity.  Based on comparative wage data for our market for the positons represented by Local 6, the Hospital has offered increases in wages that are consistent with Bay Area health care providers.  The Hospital used the same approach as was used for the basis of the CNA contract to determine these rates.

Finally, during the negotiation session on June 9, the Hospital informed the union, pursuant the District’s 331A document, that we are at an impasse and, as a result, a mediator or the fact-finding process should be utilized to help both parties reach an agreement. The union has until 5 p.m. on Monday, June 13, to state which course of action – mediation or fact finding — they’d like to pursue.   Either way, the Hospital wants to make sure its employees get the increases they deserve and are hopeful the issues can be resolved soon without a drawn out fact-finding process, mediation or weeks long delays in any future ratification vote.  The result of any of these actions will only cause further delays in well-deserved pay increases for Local 6 represented employees.  The Hospital’s bargaining team is hopeful it can resolve these issues soon with Union.  Additional updates will be provided as developments warrant.

Board of Directors Approve Ratified Contract with CNA

The Washington Township Health Care District Board of Directors unanimously approved a new four-year contract with the California Nurses Association at its May 25 meeting.  The agreement had been ratified by CNA membership on Friday, May 20.

“The Board took quick action to ensure our nurses are being paid at market rates and receive the increased wages they deserve as expeditiously as possible,” said Nancy Farber, chief executive officer of Washington Hospital Healthcare System. “We are pleased our nurses ratified the agreement so that we can continue to competitively recruit and retain caregivers that focus on providing high quality care to the residents of our district.”

Tentative Four-Year Agreement Reached

Washington Hospital and the California Nurses Association (CNA) have reached a tentative agreement on a new, four-year contract. The agreement, pending ratification by CNA’s membership and approval from the Washington Township Health Care District Board of Directors, is retroactive to July 2015 and will provide compensation to Washington Hospital’s RNs that is competitive with the market.

“We are pleased to have come to this fair and equitable agreement with CNA,” said Nancy Farber, chief executive officer of Washington Hospital Healthcare System. “This agreement is reflective of the Hospital’s patient first ethic by ensuring we can continue to competitively recruit and retain the most talented and experienced caregivers.”

Details will be shared at information sessions about the tentative agreement that union representatives will be scheduling and will occur before a ratification vote.

The Washington Township Health Care District Board of Directors will have the opportunity to consider the agreement for approval at its Board meeting on June 8.

Let’s resolve our differences at the bargaining table now

Washington Hospital has a long and proud tradition of staffing our facility with organized labor. The Hospital is home to six bargaining units.  Negotiating fair and equitable labor agreements with each union at Washington Hospital is guided by the Washington Township Health Care District compensation policy of tandem and parity.  Simply put, the policy dictates that our employees are to be competitively paid.

The Hospital has been in labor negotiations with the California Nurses Association (CNA), the union that represents nurses who provide care at our Hospital, since July 2015.  After negotiations commenced, the Hospital’s bargaining team offered numerous dates per month to CNA for negotiations, but the union often chose to bargain only one day a month.  In fact, Washington Hospital did not receive the first wage proposal from CNA until Feb 2016, seven months after bargaining began. Several of the bargaining sessions held have lasted 90 minutes or less.  It’s tough to make meaningful progress when the union chooses to infrequently meet and then when we sit down to negotiate, bargaining is brief at best. We urge CNA members to talk to their leadership and ask them why they are not wanting to have more frequent bargaining sessions so that we can swiftly reach an agreement which would provide retroactivity and significantly increased wages for Washington Hospital nurses.

Although there has been a lack of commitment by CNA to spend time negotiating at the bargaining table, the union has informed the Hospital of its intent to hold an informational picket on May 12.  While the Hospital’s bargaining team was surprised by this move, we will continue to provide dates and encourage the membership of CNA to urge its leaders to meet with the Hospital as soon as possible in an effort to reach an agreement.

It’s the bargaining team’s belief that the time and energy spent on the theatrics of informational picketing would be better spent at the bargaining table.  Our nurses have waited long enough for their wage adjustments so that they can be competitively paid.  The Hospital’s bargaining team stands ready to negotiate at any time and for as long as is needed to reach a fair agreement.  We are committed to ensuring that our nurses have a fair contract that promotes a work environment where we can recruit and retain talented nurses.

CNA Bargaining Update – 4/25/16

Washington Hospital met on Monday, April 25, with the California Nurses Association for another round of negotiations. As you recall, the Hospital presented its initial economic proposals in the March 7 bargaining session and has been awaiting the union’s response.  Rather than simply respond to the Hospital’s initial proposal, this session began at 10:15 a.m. sharp with a group of 50 or so RN’s present at the negotiation session with placards and some five or so RN’s sharing their thoughts as to how they viewed both their working conditions and the Hospital’s proposals.  Negotiations can always produce areas of disagreement despite the best of intentions. Well-intentioned people sometimes simply agree to disagree, but what was truly disappointing at this negotiation session is that this group of professional RN’s chose to scream slogans such as “no justice, no peace” in an area where just down the hall some of our very ill patients were undergoing their chemo treatments.  While we can agree to disagree, professionals should think about the impact of their behavior on our patients before acting in this manner.  Not only was this unproductive to the important economic issues that need discussion, but was not a worthy representation of many of our professional nurses.

While the negotiations continued, the union did eventually make some counterproposals and the Hospital informed CNA that we would need to cost out the union’s counterproposals and future dates for negotiations were provided to the union for consideration.

Bargaining to Continue on April 25

Since the last bargaining session on March 7, where the Hospital’s bargaining team presented its initial wage proposal, the Hospital has been very assertive in wanting to get back to the bargaining table for further discussions so that we may work towards concluding these negotiations.  The Hospital offered nine dates in March which unfortunately did not work for CNA. The Hospital continued offering dates in April and was able to secure a date for the next bargaining session, which has been scheduled for April 25.  We look forward to productive negotiations as we continue to move toward reaching a new agreement as soon as possible.

Hospital Makes Initial Economic Proposals to CNA

The Hospital and CNA met for another bargaining session on March 7.  In the prior session between representatives of Washington Hospital and CNA in February 2016, CNA presented its opening wage proposal. When the parties met again on March 7, the Hospital then presented its initial wage proposal. The Hospital proposed a four-year agreement with guaranteed wage increases to the existing base rates in the wage scales as follows:

  • 2015 – Retroactive 2% across the board increase to date of contract expiration June 30, 2015 to be paid following ratification.
  • 2016 – Annual 4% across the board increase (2% retroactive to January 1 to be paid following ratification and another 2% effective July 1)
  • 2017 – Annual 4% across the board increase (2% effective January 1 and another 2% effective July 1)
  • 2018 – Annual 3% across the board increase (2% effective January 1 and another 1% effective July 1)
  • 2019 – Annual 2% across the board increase (2% effective January 1, 2019)

This represents a total of a 15% increase to base wage rates in four years.  In addition, eligible nurses continue to receive their step increases according to the existing wage scale.

Other topics discussed at the bargaining session included medical benefits and Earned Time Off (ETO) proposals. The Hospital made its initial benefits proposal that is the same medical benefits proposal that it made to other unions such as SEIU, Local 20 and Local 856. The Hospital’s Health Benefit Proposal continues to maintain a free coverage plan to individual nurses as well as a no-contribution option. The Hospital’s bargaining team reminded CNA that there have been no significant changes to the Hospital’s medical plan in more than 20 years despite significant increases in health care costs during the same time period.  It was also noted that other hospital and health systems represented by CNA, such as Kaiser, John Muir and HCA also have medical benefit plans that require contributions (Stanford Hospital, which is not represented by CNA, also maintains a contribution plan).

The Hospital’s ETO proposal would add five additional paid time off days to employees and is consistent with the same ETO plan that all other employees at Washington Hospital currently have. (During the negotiation session, Washington Hospital’s bargaining team noted that several other hospitals, also represented by CNA, including several Daughters of Charity Hospitals, Sutter Hospitals, and several other hospitals also have ETO plans.)

At the end of the session, the Hospital’s bargaining team inquired about additional dates for bargaining so that we could continue to work toward reaching a fair contract (nine additional dates for bargaining in March were offered for consideration).