After a seven-week break we met with management to continue contract negotiations. We were hoping they would come back with comprehensive responses to our contract proposals, but they came back with only seven responses. We were unable to reach any tentative agreements today. See below for a summary chart of today’s responses by management.Our bargaining committee expressed frustration that over the last seven weeks since we last met, our biggest items have been left unaddressed: staffing, wages, and benefits despite nurses leaving every day and fewer nurses coming in to replace them.
Maternity nurses implored management to immediately stop the extremely dangerous practice of pulling from their areas in an attempt to alleviate pressure on
med-surg floors. We all know dangerous practices like these lead to preventable ICU admissions, injuries to mothers and babies, including life-long complications
for our smallest patients. One NICU nurse spoke about a baby who coded and was declared dead, but was fortunately brought back. Having experienced nurses able to care for babies to prevent a code and to deal with codes is the difference between life and death. These are the sort of experiences that nurses leave the profession
over, not just the hospital.
Frustratingly, management kicked the can down the road on this important issue even though maternity nurses have continuously expressed their concerns to hospital management.
RGH nurses are done with the excuses. Management is well aware of the patients (sometimes our own family members) stuck in a chair in the ED for a week. They know about the stable patients who end up in our ICUs because of inadequate staffing. They know that the moral harm, low pay and risks to our licenses have driven nurses away at a much higher rate than other hospitals (many units have over 70% vacancy rates).
OUR ORIGINAL PROPOSAL
Personnel files and evals
Minor infractions dropped off after a year
All infractions stay and can be used in arbitrations against employees
Grievance and arbitration
Binding arbitration with more time to file grievance
Binding arbitration with post-hearing briefs
Just Cause with clear progressive discipline and meaningful union representation
Just cause but progressive discipline is unclear and restrictions on union representation, also takes out “dignity and respect” from disciplinary action
Postings and Job Bidding
All bargaining unit jobs will be posted for at least seven days for bargaining unit priority, if qualifications equal, highest seniority (RGH) is awarded position, no continued prohibitions on transfers in order to keep nurses here
3 days for job postings for bargaining
unit priority, RRH seniority is used but CNO can determine who is most qualified, employees are prohibited from transferring in the first six months of employment or under discipline including a verbal warning
Floating can only happen when low staffing is unanticipated and cannot leave a unit short staffed below their grid and must be done […]
Bargaining update: G1 nurses heard; improvements to ED incentive; administration gives some counter proposals, but dodges key issues; safety and security still at issue
G1 Nurses Win Pause on Disastrous Admission Change
As shared in the last bargaining update, a change was implemented to G1 Psych in September which led to patients being admitted without necessary information. This has included patients’ names, as well as medical information and legal paperwork necessary to hold them.
After confronting administration with several examples of unsafe patient care conditions created by this change, including correcting several misconceptions administration had about what was actually happening on the unit, we won an agreement to pause the new process until G1 nurses could meet with administrators to discuss a process for safer admissions.
Like with everything, it’s clear that when nurses are actually involved in the planning, the outcome will be better.
Improvement to ED incentive, but more work to be done
Yesterday morning (11/29), administration contacted us seeking to implement an incentive program to fill staffing holes in the ED. They planned to offer a bonus of $1200 (in addition to current SIP and OT rules) to any nurse who picked up at least 48 hours within four weeks.
Nurses in the ED have been stretched impossibly thin and the unit has been bleeding staff as burnout is at an all-time high. In the last year alone, the ED has lost over 30% of its permanent staff. No incentive program is going to fix that, when low base rates and chronically short staffing mean RGH cannot recruit and retain nurses. After surveying 42 ED nurses within 24 hours, the bargaining committee heard overwhelmingly that the bonus was not enough for the vast majority to pick up sufficient hours to fill the holes. Concerns were also raised about nurses who might become sick in the middle of the program and get no bonus despite working most of the hours.
In bargaining today, we won two improvements:
Raising the total amount from $1200 to $1500 (moving the effective hourly bonus from $25/hour to $31.25/hour).
Prorating the bonus by total hours picked up in the four week period, so the potential bonuses would be $375 for 12 hours picked up, $750 for 24 hours, $1125 for 36 hours, and $1500 for 48 hours.
This was the most the administration was willing to move on, so we accepted the improved program with the caveat that, from what we were hearing from ED nurses, it was unlikely to succeed in filling all the holes. We believe much more needs to be done, but hope that administration is starting to see that the solution is to put more resources into staff nurses, rather than (unsuccessfully) trying to fill holes with APPs or travelers.
First Tentative Agreement reached, but responses on wages, staffing, benefits not yet forthcoming
We reached an agreement with administration on a contract article regarding […]
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 […]
After more than a year of organizing and months of preparing our proposals, we had our first bargaining session with RGH administration as unionized nurses.
Over 45 nurses from across the hospital presented our first set of proposals. It was empowering to be seated as equals with management and express our ideas of how to make our hospital a place nurses want to come and stay.
Our initial (pre-contract) proposals are:
A system for problem solving and dispute resolution where issues not resolved at management level are brought to the CNO
Hospital should provide us with bulletin boards in break rooms so we can make “union announcements, sign-up sheets for union events, and other union communications.”
Bargaining committee should be released in order to attend bargaining sessions. We asked for at least one nurse representative from each unit for each session.
RGH should hire an unlawfully terminated Unity nurse to RGH.
Install metal detectors in ED
Ensure a security presence in patient holding areas at all times
Increase security in parking areas
With the exception of agreeing on details for when a COVID-19 surge could make the bargaining sessions happen virtually versus in person, we agreed on a number of management’s proposed “ground rules” that will hopefully make negotiations go more smoothly.
One bargaining rule management proposed and that we did not agree to is having management read and pre-approve our own union flyers. Management doesn’t want us to post flyers they interpret as “inflammatory.”
In total, we presented management with twenty-four articles ranging from Personnel Files and Evaluations to Staffing and Medical Benefits. Management listened respectfully while we walked them through proposals that could really help us retain the nurses we need to staff the hospital appropriately.
Management made only two proposals to us today. One is an article preventing us from going on strike during the term of the Agreement. The other was a Recognition clause stating who would be covered under the contract. Our proposals includes CNLs (all except Adult ED). Management’s proposal excludes CNLs from the Recognition clause.
Management informed us that a third medical plan option was going to be available this year during open enrollment. This option will be made available to bargaining unit nurses as well, even though we don’t have details about the plan yet.
They also informed us that medical premium costs will not be increasing this year. RGH nurses already spend too much on our medical insurance and our proposal made today would cap the costs for future years as well. Our proposal also decreases out of pocket costs and improves coverage.
“Today I shared with management an experience the wound care team had with the previous CNO. She […]