Working Conditions Matter: Nurses Deserve Support and Respect
Chronic understaffing and turnover make our jobs more difficult and affect our ability to provide excellent patient care. Nurses are key to the world-class patient care the hospitals are known for, and we deserve support and respect. If the hospitals are serious about Magnet principles like structural empowerment and transformational leadership, they need to listen to Nurses.
We are entering the last week of negotiations before our contracts expire.
On Monday, CRONA expects to hear back from the hospitals on a number of outstanding proposals relating to working conditions, and CRONA will then present a complete package of proposals to the hospitals on wages, benefits and working conditions. As we describe below, there are several working conditions proposals to which the hospitals have not yet agreed. The hospitals need to show that they are serious about making the hospitals a place where Nurses want to come and stay. CRONA will continue to stand strong for Nurses’ rights to be safe at work, work in respectful, supportive environments, and work sustainable schedules.
Nurses Deserve to Be Safe At Work
Current workplace violence policies and practices don’t do enough to protect us. CRONA should have a voice on the committees where decisions about workplace violence prevention practices are being made — these decisions impact Nurses’ safety. All Nurses should receive hands-on violence prevention training. And when a patient or family member assaults or threatens a Nurse, the Nurse should have the right to request a change in patient assignment, a request that should be granted unless no other staff are available. The hospitals so far have not agreed to CRONA’s proposals.
Protection of Part-Time Positions
The ability to work part-time can be key for Nurses’ desire to stay in the job. In the last round of contract negotiations, CRONA negotiated contract provisions requiring units to re-post part-time positions that become vacant at the same level of part-time commitment. These provisions protect a mix of part-time positions. Nurses need real part-time positions, not 0.875 positions like some units posted in recent months. The hospitals so far have not agreed to keep the re-posting requirement.
No Need for a More Stringent Attendance Policy
Nurses should not be forced to choose between coming to work sick, which can endanger their patients and colleagues, or being disciplined. CRONA has proposed extending contract provisions that prevent the hospitals from making the current attendance policies more punitive. So far, the hospitals have not agreed.
Increased Access to Extended Sick Leave
When Nurses need surgery, we should be able to use our extended sick leave (ESL) right away. We have proposed that Nurses be allowed to use ESL immediately when they have a same-day surgery. Currently, ESL begins only on the fourth day of absence unless the Nurse is hospitalized. Even though this change would mirror what other Bay Area hospitals provide, the hospitals have thus far rejected CRONA’s proposal. Nurses should also not be required to use up their PTO when they are hurt at work or awaiting disability. We should be able to use ESL to cover workers’ compensation and state disability waiting periods, not have to dip into vacation days during those already difficult times. The hospitals have not agreed to this proposal.
Nurses Should be Able to Use Educational Assistance Funds with Less Red Tape
Hospital management is making it unnecessarily difficult for Nurses to use our educational assistance funds. We need to remove some of the red tape. If a Nurse’s manager or the Chief Nursing Officer has approved a request or if a course is required, reimbursement requests should not be denied on the ground that a Nurse didn’t have pre-approval. The hospitals have rejected this reasonable proposal.
We Need Reasonable Limits to Floating and Remote Assignments
As the hospitals expand their geographic reach and open new facilities around the Bay Area, CRONA believes that we need reasonable limits on required floating and required multi-location assignments, to protect Nurses from exhausting commutes and excessive travel time. The hospitals have not yet agreed.
Sustainable Weekend Scheduling
The hospitals should confirm that, if staffing permits, units can and should schedule Nurses to work only every third weekend. The hospitals have not agreed to CRONA’s proposed contract language.
Keep Call Policies Unit-Based
Our current contracts give Nurses a say in how call is organized and assigned. Stanford wants to change that language to allow management to organize call procedures in a way that would apply across multiple units or departments at once, particularly in the operating areas. CRONA has not agreed to this proposal and has explained to the hospital why such an approach is not workable: it fails to recognize the specialized skills of the O.R. and PACU Nurses, and would lead to more staffing problems, not fewer.
Support for Nurses Pursuing Higher Education
CRONA has proposed that Nurses who want to return to school to pursue a BSN or MSN should be provided the opportunity to work a commitment that will accommodate their school schedules. Although CRONA and the hospitals have exchanged a number of proposals on this topic, they do not yet agree on the specifics.
What to Expect Next Week
We’re getting down to the wire – our contracts expire March 31. CRONA’s Negotiation Team will be working with the hospitals all next week to secure contracts that preserve the protections we have and provide the better working conditions, benefits, and wages we deserve. Keep on the lookout for more frequent updates next week. Membership meetings will be announced soon: join us to learn more, ask questions, and support your fellow CRONA Nurses.