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.