The following is from the Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA):
SEATTLE (Nov. 9, 2023) — Late Tuesday night, nurses at Virginia Mason Medical Center reached a tentative agreement with management on a new three-year contract. The TA comes after 19 bargaining sessions, an informational picket, and a complaint filed with Labor and Industries over workplace safety.
A contract ratification vote will be held on Nov. 20.
“We fought hard for safe staffing language, break nurses, workplace violence prevention measures, and wages that will actually make our hospital competitive in the Seattle market,” said Hannah Collins-Lewis, a member of the bargaining team. “I believe this contract will aid in improving recruitment and retention. Nurses now have a reason to stay.”
The 650 nurses represented by the Washington State Nurses Association won substantial wage increases, with mid-range and higher-range nurses earning the top nurse wages in Seattle.
The agreement also addresses workplace violence concerns by installing a metal detector in the emergency room and establishing a task force, with nurses represented, that will look at other measures, including registering guests as they come into the building.
WSNA filed a complaint with the Washington Department of Labor and Industries Oct. 26 requesting a comprehensive investigation into workplace violence against nurses at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health.
On the staffing front, Virginia Mason agreed that charge nurses should not be given patient loads and that the hospital has to develop a system other than “break buddies” to cover legally mandated breaks. Under the break buddy system, another nurse covers both their patients and another nurse’s while that nurse goes on break, causing a potential safety concern.
This is the first WSNA contract where virtual nurses will be part of the union.
“I’m very pleased with the outcome of our negotiations!” said Michael Salters, who was also on the bargaining team. “It was a long fight, but we had 650 union strong nurses standing behind us, and it’s really their solidarity that pushed us over the finish line. We were able to achieve many of things we sought out initially.”
The Stand (Oct. 10) — Nurses demanding safety at Virginia Mason