Negotiations got off to a productive start on Monday with both sides making initial, non-economic proposals (wages and benefit issues are typically held back until some of the easier issues are addressed). The INA put forward proposals to address workload and scheduling concerns raised by our members through the surveys and face-to-face meetings. Specifically, the union proposed prohibiting mandatory overtime and increases to shift lengths without mutual agreement. A union proposal would result in one additional holiday off each year and more meaningful observance of holidays for night shift nurses. The union also proposed making pattern schedules permanent unless changes are agreed. Another union proposal would free nurses from having to find their own substitutes for weekend vacations. Also, the union proposed extending break times.
Another important issue the union is addressing in negotiations is Hospital Excused time. The union has proposed prohibiting involuntary HE once a shift starts. We have also proposed a system that would distribute the burden of mandatory HE more fairly and would also allow you to use EIB when HE’d.
We believe some progress has already been made towards:
* additional protections for probationary employees;
* additional notice prior to a lay off;
* additional recall rights if laid off;
* more fairness when a nurse faces discipline; and
* advance notice prior to being pulled to another unit.
Of course, no tentative agreements can be implemented until all issues have been resolved and, ultimately, you will have the final say on the contract as a whole.
But not everything was sweetness and light at the bargaining table. St. Joes has proposed:
* taking away guaranteed rest breaks;
* counting preceptees in the staffing count; and
* taking away the right to become a CCRT rather than be laid off.
Two of those proposals will lead to more overwork and the other lessens our job security. We will fight back against any proposal that contributes to being overworked by St. Joes! We will continue to defend job security at the bargaining table!
What about wages and benefits?
All the items mentioned above are important, but most of our members are anxious to know what is going to happen to salaries and benefits. It is typical in negotiations to resolve as many “non-economic” issues as possible before addressing “economic” proposals. Rest assured, economic proposals will be exchanged in the coming weeks. The next bargaining session is on January 23.