RUNAP Negotiations Update #2
RGH:Disregard for Patients and Staff
Yesterday, a packed room of nurses presented management with most of the remaining proposals for our contract, including big ticket items such as safe staffing limits and a fair wage scale. Many of us took a day off or stayed all day after working night shift. It was important for us to share our roadmap to RGH recovery–detailed plans to provide safe care for our patients, protect our licenses, and retain and recruit nurses at our hospital.
Patient Safety: RNs from each department developed and presented safe staffing limits based on our experience, evidence-based research, and higher standards at other area hospitals. Many of us shared harrowing experiences of fatal falls, violent attacks on co-workers, missed codes, being so short staffed that patients had to check their own vitals, 21 patient assignments and the stress, burnout, and mass exodus of nurses that these conditions have created. After years of eroding standards (including pre-pandemic), we know that the only way to keep our patients safe will be with a legally enforceable contract.
Economics: We presented management with a competitive wage scale that will reward experience, retain our staff, bring back former colleagues who have left and attract new grads from the many local nursing schools. Our wage proposal mirrors Buffalo General, a similar sized facility in a smaller healthcare system. Our proposal guarantees annual raises and step increases based on years of experience, starting at $37.06 for new grads and going up to $51.79 for 20+ years of RN experience. Separate proposals increase differentials, including adding new ones for precepting and triage, clarify when SIP pay goes into effect, and compensate per diems fairly. We believe that RRH could save a significant amount of the $270 million they have budgeted for travelers in 2022, and the millions more they lose from high turnover, by investing in us.
Nurse Safety: We presented our safety petition to management with overwhelming support from RNs across the hospital and other staff. We shared experiences of being hospitalized after being attacked at work, removing guns and knives from patients, and endemic system failures that put us at risk daily. It was extremely frustrating to hear management’s dismissive excuses about why they cannot guarantee our safety at work, and we will continue to press them on this issue.
G1 & 5500: Days after discussing the negative consequences of reopening 5500 without adequate staff, management reneged on their commitment to 5400 nurses to not float them to other areas of the hospital, leaving their unit even more dangerously short staffed. Similarly, G1 staff have been raising legitimate concerns since a new direct admissions process rolled out without their consultation that, amongst other issues, makes it impossible for them to see the charts of their patients. Yesterday, management initially denied that this was happening and then when proven otherwise told us that they would develop a solution behind closed doors rather than pause this unsafe process and collaborate with staff. Bargaining committee members from those units identified 6 nurses that they expect to lose if these issues persist.
Despite saying that they are “making every effort not to pull,” there were many efforts not taken to avoid the dangerous situation on 5500, including having the nurse manager take an assignment and offering additional incentive pay.
Nurses in these units need to fill out a safe connect form for every shift where direct admits are a possibility on G1 and 5500 is open without enough RNs.
Responses to our proposals: Hospital administration gave us unsatisfactory responses on a few minor issues such as bulletin board postings and nondiscrimination, and we reached agreement on ground rules. It is a common tactic for management to try to drag this process out, but our patients and the few remaining staff do not enjoy the luxury of time. Now that management has the bulk of our proposals, we expect substantive responses.
Our Message To Our Coworkers: Don’t get weary in well doing! Together we are crafting a blueprint for a much better RGH. Rather than look for another job, join us in our fight for quality patient care and a dignified workplace.