Negotiating sessions were held on January 27 and 30 and February 4 and 6. Both sides are still focusing on non-economic proposals (wages and benefit issues are typically held back until some of the easier issues are addressed). The union continues to advance proposals to address workload and scheduling concerns raised by our members through the surveys and face-to-face meetings. The union’s bargaining team proposed mandatory staffing ratios intended to promote patient safety and address our members’ feelings of being overworked. Management says they are looking at it.
Although we have made progress toward a system that would distribute the burden of mandatory HE more fairly, there is a stumbling block, however. Management has proposed having the option to place nurses on standby rather than HEing them. This proposal is unacceptable and has been rejected, but management has not yet withdrawn it.
We also have continued to resist a proposal by management that would have us scheduling our vacations every six months instead of annually. Our discussions with the membership have indicated no interest in this proposal.
Additionally, St. Joes continues to push taking away guaranteed rest breaks and counting preceptees in the staffing count. These proposals will lead to more overwork. We will fight back against any proposal that contributes to being overworked by St. Joes!
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 February 13.