SEATTLE – (July 8, 2016) The registered nurses at the University of Washington Medical Center voted by a significant majority to add Fair Share membership language to the collective bargaining agreement that covers the 1,600 registered nurses who work there.
“This is a huge victory for the nurses and for their patients,” said Christine Himmelsbach, Assistant Executive Director of Labor Relations at the Washington State Nurses Association, which represents the nurses at the UW Medical Center. “More and more, nurses have elected to join WSNA in recent years, and their decision to make either full membership or fair share support a requirement for new hires will give them even more power to be strong advocates for their patients and themselves.”
The 10-day online vote was conducted by the Washington State Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) at the request of WSNA and the University of Washington. Voting was open to all registered nurses at the UW Medical Center, both those that are WSNA members and those that are not. Nearly two-thirds of the nurses who voted said “YES!” to Fair Share membership language.
“This is a tremendous win for nurses at the UW Medical Center,” said Charles James, a registered nurse on the ICU Resource Team and WSNA Secretary at the medical center. “Having a stronger voice to advocate for our patients and the best possible care will help everybody.”
All new hires, and those transferring into the bargaining unit will now be required to either join WSNA as a full member or to pay their “fair share” for the representation WSNA provides to all RNs at the UW Medical Center.
The vote was held consistent with the collective bargaining agreement ratified on January 8, 2016. The victory came despite pressure from UW Medical Center managers urging nurses to vote “NO.” WSNA filed several Unfair Labor Practice complaints as a result of actions by UW Medical Center managers that WSNA contends placed unlawful pressure on nurses to vote “NO.”
“I am proud to be part of the Washington State Nurses Association and I’m proud of my fellow nurses for stepping up and voting ‘YES!,’” said Teresa Wren, a registered nurse in the Maternity and Infant Center and WSNA Treasurer at UWMC. “I know that having more nurses in our union will lead to better working conditions and better patient care conditions.”