Impact of UWHC Management Plans When Collective Bargaining Ends

This paper is a summary of key issues raised by the transition plan announced by the hospital. Our collective voice has had an impact. CLICK HERE to stand with other UW Health Employees to maintain an independent voice for workers at UWHC and to have a say in our working conditions.

The UWHC Transition Plan in response to ACT 10 was unveiled in parts by the hospital shortly before and within days after the December 4th rally and petition delivery to Donna Katen-Bahensky and the UWHC Authority Board. Even though the hospital receives no direct taxpayer support and hospital management states they did not ask to be included in Act 10, the transition plan represents a fundamental shift in the management’s approach. The hospital appears to be using Act 10 to reduce not only employee’s independent voice, but also the overall wages, hours and working conditions the unions have helped secure in a long term partnership.

Its not too late. UWHC Can Do Better.

Our unions have approached Ms. Katen-Bahensky and the UWHC Authority Board with a willingness to meet with them to discuss proposals that would maintain a high level of patient care and improve employee morale. The hospital, to date has chosen not to work with the unions in developing its plans. Despite Katen-Bahensky’s claim that ACT 10 prevents her from working with our unions we believe that our relationship can include the following elements:

  • The hospital could embrace the concept of elected employee representatives with whom it can meet and confer on hospital employment policies.
  • The hospital could now sit down with representatives from each bargaining unit and together work out personnel policies for the new employee handbook, including within it current contract provisions that have worked well for the parties.
  • The representatives could enforce the handbook provisions through an established grievance procedure and have input into any new policies or proposed changes to the handbook.

Economic Issues:

I. Supplementary Pay – On November 19th, after previously saying no adjustments would be made, the hospital announced that it was going to provide supplementary pay increases to our members to offset the increase cost in health and pension benefit contributions. On July 1, 2014 our members would receive a 4% pay BONUS and every 6 months for the next two years that BONUS would be lessened by 1% until July 1, 2016 when there would be no additional bonus.

Unfortunately, the employee share for pension contribution is increasing by nearly 7%. In addition, monthly health insurance premiums are nearly doubling.
Example: A typical nurse earning $34/hr and working 90% would see an annual increase of over $4,200 in pension contributions. Their monthly insurance premium for a family plan would increase to over $200, with total additional insurance premium increases of over $1,000 annually.

UWHC Could fully reimburse all employees

Over the last 3 years this non-profit health care organization has averaged an 8% profit margin earning $101,473,000 in 2012, and showing a return on equity of 13.10% last year. The UWHC’s growth in equity last year was 15.84% compared to a median of 7% for other Wisconsin hospitals. By any measure the UWHC is doing well financially. The state imposed employee increases in pension and health care costs result in direct savings to the hospital. UWHC is choosing not to fully offset those costs for all employees.

II. Wages for SEIU employees – 1% increase on July 1, 2014 & step increases thru 6/30/15. After July 1, 2016 the hospital plans to increase wages through Merit Pay based on a future comprehensive compensation study. Merit pay without an independent employee voice to monitor its fairness could further damage employee relations.

III. Tuition Reimbursement – After July 1, 2015 all SEIU employees who are first applying for tuition reimbursement regardless of seniority will receive their reimbursement in proportion to their FTE. Currently employees with 5 or more years of UWHC service and/or at least .8 FTE receive 100% reimbursement.
Example: Nurse Betty applies for tuition reimbursement in August 2015 for the fall semester. Betty is a .6 FTE with 6 years of UWHC service. Her tuition for the semester is $2500. Under the Transition Plan she will be reimbursed $1500. Under the SEIU contract she would have been reimbursed $2500.

IV. Overtime – Hours paid for sick leave will no longer be counted toward an employee’s 40 hour work week.

V. Other “known” and possible reduction in benefits and rights:

  1. PM differential starting time changed from 5pm to 6pm
  2. Call back pay reduced from 4 hours to 3 hours
  3. Sick days reduced from 13 to 12 days per year
  4. Seniority bonus capped after 7/1/17 and limited to employees who achieve 25 years seniority by 7/1/17.
  5. Differentials after 7/1/15 are subject to a future comprehensive compensation study.
  6. Low census guidelines may be changed to a mandatory low census policy.

CLICK HERE to stand with other UW Health Employees to maintain an independent voice for workers at UWHC and to have a say in our working conditions.

Seniority Benefits Reduced

I. Nurse residents who were in the program prior to 7/1/2006 lose their retroactive seniority as all seniority is now hospital seniority.

II. Best qualified will be used instead of ability and job requirements that are comparable, for filling job vacancies.

III. Vacation scheduling may take seniority into consideration.

Patient Care Issues

I. HR will develop general guidelines regarding scheduling.

Issues of concern:
1. Posting and adherence to schedules.
2. Scheduling Options
3. Restrictions on 12 hours shifts and shift rotation
4. Shift Preferences
5. Floating
6. Mandatory Overtime
7. Extra Shift Scheduling

II. Labor Management Meetings will be eliminated.

1. Staffing issues will no longer be brought to and discussed with management by your elected representatives.
2. Employees will no longer be able to send Notice of Risk to Patient Care forms to elected representatives so they can elicit responses from management.

Worker Rights

  1. Grievance Procedure: The “improved” grievance procedure for employees who wish to contest disciplines will allow you to have a non-paid co-worker attend formal grievance meetings. If you are suspended you might go before a panel review consisting of handpicked employees and managers.
  2. You will no longer have Weingarten Rights (the right to have a representative at an investigatory interview) and you will no longer be eligible to have your case heard before an impartial arbitrator.

To date, the UWHC Transition Plan is the result of a fatal flaw – the failure to involve employees elected by their peers to develop the plan. UWHC has the ability to remedy this flaw now and after the union contracts expire.

The 5000 Strong Member Action Team is working to change the process and the current plan.

CLICK HERE to stand with other UW Health Employees to maintain an independent voice for workers at UWHC and to have a say in our working conditions.

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Latest News from UWHCA: Union Advocate

The Union Advocate is member-produced publication for and by our members at UW Hospitals & Clinics.

Click here to download a PDF version of the newsletter.

uw What’s Happening at UWHCA:

The UNION ADVOCATE is looking for articles. Please share your experiences at UW Hospital and Clinics with your co-workers. Write to the union office on 4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 300 Madison, WI 53705 or info@seiuhcwi.org




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Delivered 1,198 signed petitions

On December 4th, 108 union members and community allies rallied outside UW Hospital and Clinics before turning in 1,198 petitions to Donna and the Board requesting they formally recognize our right to have an independent voice on thejob. Our efforts have not gone unnoticed.

The December 11th issue of the Capital Times printed an editorial in support from Michael Schuler, senior administrator of the First Unitarian Society. Additionally, staff writer Jack Craver covered our action.

We’re gaining momentum and the public is watching!





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Over the years, UWHC employees worked tirelessly to improve working conditions and quality care. Through our efforts, achieved through union bargaining, we achieved many successes like improving staffing and banning mandatory overtime. These efforts did not go unnoticed, and UWHC was awarded with Magnet status. These provisions led to UWHC’s Magnet designation; the conditions didn’t come from our Magnet status.

The award was, and remains, a trophy for the UWHC Board to display as evidence of its credibility, more important to administration than to the average nurse who appreciates and helped cause the pt centered and nurse empowering conditions.

We’ve seen nurses approach management with ideas for improvements that would benefit pt and staff, but UWHC management too often rebuffs these for flimsy reasons. The general attitude of management has seemed that they listen to our collective voice because they have to. They haven’t treated empowered care providers as partners, but as adversaries. In the absence of a union contract, nurses serving on committees to affect pt care will likely find their participation even more frustrating.

We could soon lose our independent voice at the table through our union contract and our contract provisions that helped UWHCA gain the acclaimed “Magnet Status”. (more…)

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More and Better Training Not Discipline is the Key to Providing Quality Patient Care

“You have been scheduled for a Pre-disciplinary Investigatory (PDI) meeting at UWHC…Specifically, we will discuss an alleged….and your failure to follow the appropriate outlined procedures to prevent such errors.  Also, please note that during an employment investigation, employees are required to cooperate with the investigators and provide truthful responses and to refrain from any retaliation against any suspected witnesses.  Providing false information and/or evasive responses, and/or retaliating against others may independently lead to discipline.”

These sentences are copied from a formal letter that anybody on a PDI receives from administration.  You may have committed a specimen labeling error or a HIPAA violation (two  common performance accusations), or having been absent or tardy one time too many.  And anybody who has received such a notice knows how unsettling and threatening it feels; one experiences shame of having done something wrong, fear of losing your job.

In doing so, management seems to focus heavily on the breaking of established policies and procedures.  Nothing else is taken into account: past performances, or the overall performance in that given situation.  Administration seems to be interested mainly  in compliance rates.

At a recent class on Evidence Based Practice, the question was raised regarding the value of improvements based on sound reasoning and proven experience, when those changes are forced onto the staff in 5 minutes CBTs or hurried classes.  Signing one’s name at the end of the sessions, one is then held responsible for having integrated that information into one’s practice, no matter what. This concern seems to be shared at some level of management but, at this point, there are no plans to address it.

To make it clear, we are not questioning change or improvements in practice; we are questioning the methods of spreading new information and the communication of what is expected of these changes.

So, as we encourage all of us to pay close attention to changes and to implement them into our practice, we also urge you to raise your voices to ask for more serious ways to be informed and a method of enforcement that is less focused on discipline and more on spreading knowledge.


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Will Dane Co. Support UW Hospital Employees?

Right now, the Dane County Board Supervisors are considering a resolution supporting maintaining the collective bargaining rights for UWHC employees. We need your help to pressure our legislators to ensure they understand the importance of collective bargaining to maintaining quality care at UW Hospital.


1. Call your Dane County Supervisor and ask them to support the UWHC Resolution.

• Call the main office at (608) 266-5758.
• Not sure who your Supervisor is? Check out the district map and list online at:http://www.countyofdane.com/board/supervisors.aspx

2. Attend the Dane County Board meeting on Thursday, September 12th to show your support.

• AFSCME and SEIU HCWI members will be meeting at 6:30 PM in the lobby of the County Building at 210 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. Meeting begins at 7:00 PM.

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06/04 – UWHC Union Advocate

The Union Advocate is member-produced publication for and by our members at UW Hospitals & Clinics.

Click here to download a PDF version of the newsletter.

uw What’s Happening at UWHCA: Safe Staffing = Quality Patient Care. No Patient Assignment For Care Team Leaders, Why?Labor Management Meeting Updates:
Minutes from 5/14 Meeting
Q & A – Contract Corner


Interested in Attending Labor Management Meetings? Join your peers at the labor management meetings which are held the 2nd Tuesday of each month in the main hospital. For information contact Larry at the union office at 608-277-1199.


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Question:  If I am floated to another unit to handle patient assignments and I do not believe that I can provide safe care is there anything I can do to get out of the assignment?

Answer:  Pursuant to Article VIII, Section 11 in your Union Contract, “Should a float be required that is inconsistent with this Section, the patient care assignment will be negotiated with the affected employee.” And “If a negotiation of a patient assignment is unsuccessful and the floated employee feels that she/he could not provide safe care she/he can verbally inform the supervisor of his/her objections, who will intervene and attempt to resolve the conflict.”

Be sure to Contact your Union Steward or the Union office if you are put in a situation where patient care could be compromised.









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Safe Staffing = Quality Patient Care

No Patient Assignment For Care Team Leaders, Why?

Medical unit Care Team Leaders (CTLS) still have a 50% patient care assignment. The patient assignment needs to be stable, low acuity patients. Giving up a primary patient to a care team leader is not a satisfier for the staff nurse. “I have built a relationship with this patient when he was really sick and now I can’t care for him!”

CTLS need to triage patients for throughput, coordinate staffing, be a resource to staff nurses, lead in IMOC rounds, improve patient satisfaction and intentional rounding etc. “I want a CTL to have my back not take my patient.”

Patient acuity and throughput continue to rise. Forty five minutes from ED discharge to admit to a unit bed is the UWHC goal but today’s average is 90 minutes.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will reward hospitals for quality patient care.

Let’s organize our units to maximize the best chance for high quality outcomes. Let’s encourage UWHC management to do the right thing. No increase in nurse patient ratios for staff nurses and no patient assignments for CTLS.


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Minutes of the May 14th Labor Management Meeting

Union and management representatives met in room E5/492 at 2pm. Four members of the union team and one staff representative were present for the whole meeting. One member of the union team came for the last 90 minutes. Management was represented by 4 labor relations staff and Sue Rees. One member of the union team was absent due to a vacation. Management chose not to bring any of the Nursing Directors to this meeting.

Old Business

 1. Nurse Line Draws – The plan is completed and moving forward live at the West Clinic and U Station. There are 11 nurses trained to the line draws at West and 7 at U Station. East Clinic will go live on July 1st. Management still working on specifics at the CSC outpatient lab. There have been no problems reported at the Oncology Clinic.

 2. Workplace Violence Training – Management is working with security to get the training started while the Academy continues to get its workforce in place.

 3. FAQ on the Rights of Non-Represented Employees – The union believes that management should not be holding captive meetings with our union members. This is interfering with the union’s legal right to represent our employees and enforce the contract. Management should not be meeting with our members without the union present. These meeting are not giving the full picture. There are many rights that the employees will maintain even if non-represented and there are options to utilize the services of our union.

Management asserts that they have a duty to tell the employees about their future as non-represented workers. They claim that they are trying to stick to the facts. When asked why they can’t increase pay to offset the decrease in pension and health insurance benefits Sue Rees stated that census reimbursements are declining and UW wants to remain a viable institution. (more…)

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