COVID-19 Union Response Bulletin – April 9 Issue
We are all in it together when it comes to facing the COVID-19 crisis, but because we are part of our union, we are stronger together.
We are working to hold employers accountable to providing the necessary PPE and training so that every member in every workplace can do their jobs safely at this critical time.
Because we are a union made up by members from across two states, we will hold this space to feature our fights and our wins as well as a source of information, resources and frequently asked questions and answers.
→News and updates
→FAQ on workplace issues
→FAQ on benefits
→Our plan to win
Being part of a strong union means we have the power to hold our employers accountable to listening to our voices and making sure they do what is right. This is our union power at work.
- Montana: When administration planned to allow a doctor who had been exposed to a COVID-19 patient to come in to do an elective surgery, nurses at Kalispell Regional Hospital — who are working on their first contract! — organized and demanded administration to not only cancel the procedure but send the doctor home to quarantine. In their unity, they prevailed because they demanded what they needed to ensure safety for themselves, their patients and their families.
- Memorandums of Understanding: Across the union we are winning agreements from employers through Memorandums of Understanding — MOU. This week we reached an MOU with Valley Medical Center in Renton, a hotspot for coronavirus activity. The MOU features paid admin leave for any worker who needs to be in quarantine, float pay for any worker asked to float outside of their regular assignment and the right to request accommodations if you have an underlying condition or are pregnant.
- Free parking: At Harborview Medical Center and Northwest Hospital, workers seeing drastic cuts to transit services were forced to drive themselves to the frontlines. Once there, they were met with steep parking fees. Members came together and demanded that management waive these parking charges; it made no sense for workers during this time of crisis to find themselves at a financial loss so that they could be there for their community. Management realized the error of their ways and all parking has been made free for workers.
We are advocating for safe staffing and patient care across the CHI Franciscan system during the pandemic. We have held emergency labor-management meetings at every CHI Franciscan hospital and we are seeing results!
- Float pay: We negotiated float pay across the CHI system in our MOU to allow staff to voluntarily float where needed. Recently, a Highline nurse floated to St. Elizabeth Hospital to help with their staffing needs.
- Highline: Members at Highline Medical Center held our first joint labor-management committee meeting of nurses and service workers united together. After we advocated for increased EVS staffing, management brought on additional agency staff.
- St. Elizabeth: Members at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Enumclaw called for an emergency meeting of the labor-management committee to address staffing concerns. During the meeting, we advocated for incentive pay to bring in staff to help relieve shortages. Because we stood together, management responded by offering incentive pay for nurses and CT techs.
- PPE: Healthcare workers are joining together today to take photos with signs asking the federal administration: “Where is my PPE?” We know there are PPE stockpiles the federal government is currently sitting on, and we need to call on them to release them so frontline workers have the protection they need to keep themselves safe.
- Union rights under an emergency: Different contracts across our union have clauses regarding States of Emergency or natural disasters. We are working together to make sure employers don’t abuse these clauses and that our contracts stay in full effect as much as possible. If you believe your employer is violating your contract, follow up with a delegate or your organizer to protect any grievance timelines in your contract. There are also extra provisions outlined in MOUs, such as extra pay for floating, you should pay close attention to.
TELE TOWN HALL
- Last week we launched our first tele town hall, and more than a thousand members called in to hear about the work we are doing as a union to fight back against the virus and to have their questions answered. If you were not able to join last week’s call, you can listen to the recording here. We will have opportunities to join future tele town halls in the coming weeks and hear from experts and leaders on specific topics. Additional dates will be announced soon. Join our upcoming tele town hall:
Featuring Gov. Jay Inslee
- Members will receive an automated call at the time of the tele town hall — all you have to do is stay on the line and you will be connected.
The census is live! Through the census is how the federal government decides who gets what resources. In times of crisis, these decisions could mean life or death. If you haven’t already, go to my2020census.gov to fill it out. It can be done in under ten minutes.
The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) is uplifting Asian American and Pacific Islander workers in healthcare and service industries, and speaking up on how xenophobia and racism interact with America’s inadequate healthcare system in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. Visit the APALA site to learn how to uplift and support AAPI workers in your workplace.
GET IN TOUCH
If you need to report an incident at your facility related to COVID-19, have concerns about your safety in the workplace or questions about the impact of COVID-19 on your work, please call our COVID-19 member hotline:
- For all other queries, you can find the appropriate contact on this page.
- Visit seiu1199nwcovidresponse.org for the latest updates, information and news about our union’s response to the outbreak.
- As a union, we stand up to any form of discrimination in our contracts, and we are standing up against it in our workplaces and in our communities. If you feel that you have been subject to discrimination because of COVID-19, our legal department wants to know so we can fight back together. Submit your story by filling out an incident report here.
- Stay in touch by following us on social media.