On Friday, September 16th, our HPAE Negotiating Committee met with University Hospital representatives again as we try to finalize a new contract.
Our team was able to make significant improvements to the contract related to staffing. We signed a tentative agreement that will improve the minimum staffing levels for Critical Care and Cardiac units from 1:3 to 1:2. We were also able to eliminate the ban on arbitration for staffing violations, giving us a new tool to enforce staffing levels for every department. This is a big victory considering management’s initial proposal to eliminate our contractual staffing provisions. These changes will help our members provide safe, quality care for our patients.
After dealing with incidents at the hospital related to Ebola and Lassa Fever, we’ve attempted to improve how the hospital responds to infectious disease to prioritize nurses’ safety. We reached an agreement that will establish a pool of volunteers for the Extended Treatment Area and ensure nurses receive proper training and PPE. We also addressed compensation issues in the event a nurse is quarantined.
We signed a number of additional agreements including: criminal background checks (more limited than management wanted); a modified workers’ comp provision that will provide more compensation during the first eight weeks of leave; a new FMLA policy more consistent with UH policy; notice of subcontracting aligned with notice of layoff; clarifications to changing time; and notice of resignation.
The focus is now on the outstanding economic issues,: tuition refund, shift differentials, compensation during inclement weather emergencies, and wages. We continue to demand that every member receive a fair wage increase that credits their years of accrued experience.
As of yet, no dates have been scheduled for the next bargaining session. We will continue to provide updates as they develop. If you would like more information, contact a local union rep or our HPAE Staff Representative, Dawn Baker, at (201) 262-5005 ext. 136.