Support Tacoma General nurses at BBQ, rally on Sept. 8

wsna-bbq-for-hcTACOMA –The Washington State Nurses Association invites everyone to attend a free community BBQ at their Rally for Healthcare from 4 to 7 p.m. this Thursday, Sept. 8 at Tacoma’s Wright Park, 501 S. “I” St. (on the Division Ave. end of the park). Nurses at MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital have been fighting to improve patient care and nurse safety, but negotiations with hospital management to accomplish those objectives have become very contentious.

Come show your support for Tacoma General nurses who are putting Patients Before Profits, and get a BBQ dinner provided by O’Shea’s Catering. (RSVP and get more information at the Facebook event page.)

Whether or not you can attend, you can also show your support by sending the following message to MultiCare CEO Bill Robertson at bill.robertson@multicare.org:

“I count on the nurses at Tacoma General to take great care of me and my loved ones. That’s why I’m alarmed by MultiCare’s refusal to address the staffing and safety concerns raised by the Tacoma General nurses. Put patients before profits and do the right thing by your nurses!”

At Thursday’s BBQ and Rally for Healthcare, starting at 5 p.m., participants will hear from several elected leaders, physicians, RNs, labor leaders, and community supporters about the importance of putting Patients Before Profits in Pierce County.

BACKGROUND information from the WSNA:

The WSNA Tacoma General contract, which expired Dec. 31, 2015, covers about 730 Registered Nurses. Negotiations have been going on since December 2015 and are now being conducted with a federal mediator. The 12th and 13th bargaining sessions are scheduled for September 14 and 16.

In the lead-up to mediation sessions on September 14 and 16, we are demanding better from one of the major health care providers in Pierce County, and we invite the community to join us.

Unlawful, unacceptable Unfair Labor Practices

Contract negotiations between WSNA and MultiCare Tacoma General have been marked by numerous Unfair Labor Practice complaints. WSNA has filed complaints about illegal activities that include unilateral changes in nurses’ working conditions, floating nurses outside their clinical groups into areas where they lack specialized expertise, holding gainsharing payments hostage during negotiations, interfering with union communications, refusing to provide information needed to represent nurses at the bargaining table and engaging in illegal surveillance of lawful union activities. At the informational picket held by RNs on June 27, MultiCare and Tacoma General CEO Bill Robertson took photos and videos of nurses, a clear violation of labor law.

Safe patient care top issue at the negotiating table:

Safe Staffing: Without adequate staffing, nurses can’t give their patients the attention they require. With one of the healthiest profit margins in the business – averaging 12.6% between 2009 and 2013 – Tacoma General can afford to give its patients the safe nurse staffing they deserve.

Wages and benefits that recruit and retain good nurses: Tacoma General will not be able to meet their staffing needs without recruiting and retaining good nurses. That takes competitive wages and benefits.

Real rest breaks: Tacoma General is defying an arbitrators order by insisting on continuing to use “break buddies” to cover rest breaks. Now they want to get “break buddies” into the nurses’ contract! The truth is, expecting a nurse to take a double patient load – even for only 15 minutes – is not safe. On top of that, Tacoma General is pushing in negotiations for “intermittent breaks.” That means a nurse’s drink of water or a trip to the bathroom would count towards a break. Under state law, a nurse must be fully relieved from duty before leaving a patient, including relaying pertinent information to another RN. In a hospital setting like Tacoma General, intermittent breaks are impossible.

Rest between shifts: The hospital wants to decrease rest between shifts to a mere 7 hours for 12 hour nurses. This is a serious safety concern.

Floating: The hospital wants to “float” nurses outside their clinical groups into areas where they lack specialized expertise. This, too is a patient safety concern.

The Washington State Nurses Association is the leading voice and advocate for nurses in Washington state, providing union representation and trainings that allow nurses to reach their full professional potential and focus on caring for patients. WSNA represents more than 17,000 registered nurses who provide care in hospitals, clinics, schools and community and public health settings across the state.

Get updates at the Nursing String Tacoma General Facebook page.

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