Respect UW Caregivers

This year, over 4,000 of us in our union — healthcare workers at Harborview Medical Center, UW Medicine – Northwest & Clinics, Airlift NW, and UW Hall Health — are bargaining an economic reopener for a contract that pays us what it takes to recruit and retain experienced healthcare workers, and allows us to safely staff our hospitals.

Winning An Economic Package that Values and Respects Us

For years we have been raising the alarm about the staffing crisis in our hospitals — a crisis that predates the pandemic and has led to burnout and serious concerns about the quality of care we are able to provide with fewer resources. 

Because of the precedent we have set through our actions as a strong, fighting union, management approached us to bargain improvements that will address recruitment and retention.

It’s now our opportunity to send management a strong message that we are all ready to stand with our bargaining team by showing up to vote on our priorities.

Make a plan to join a vote meeting and have a say in our priorities

Our next steps

1. We elect a bargaining team

Our bargaining team is a group of well-respected, trusted coworkers who represent us at the bargaining
table.

2. We vote on proposals

We will all have the opportunity to join a vote meeting, learn about our bargaining priorities, and make our voices heard with our vote.

3. We return to the bargaining table

We all take actions in our units and departments to show we stand with our bargaining team and will do what it takes to win a fair agreement.

4. We vote to ratify

If an agreement is reached, our bargaining team will bring it back to all of us and we will all have the opportunity to vote to ratify.

Frequently Asked Questions: What are we negotiating in 2022?

We are negotiating interim wage increases in our current 2021-2023 contract and negotiating economic provisions for our 2023-2025 contract. It’s an opportunity to bargain economic increases in our contract, such as wages, premiums, differentials, and incentive pay to meet our needs now and to bring our wages up. Any contract provision attached to dollars is up for negotiation.

No. If we reach an agreement, the agreement would last through June 30, 2025 and we would not be going back to the table in 2023.

Under a reopener, we would not be negotiating elements of our contract that are not attached to economics. That means we will not be negotiating provisions such as New Employee Orientation language, holidays, discipline and grievance procedures, and others.

It means that all non-economic provisions will remain in place as written under our current contract. With a reopener, we are forgoing the chance to bargain them next year when our current contract is set to expire.

UW has indicated that all provisions with deadlines under the previous contract will continue through the next contract.

UW Medicine reached out to our union team and proposed a return to the bargaining table to negotiate wages one year ahead of schedule. They communicated to us that they understand the urgency around our recruitment and retention issues and have shown a desire to act now. This process is entirely voluntary for both us and UW. UW is very aware of the strength of our unity and of our power; they’ve seen what happens when we wield it.

There is no way to know with 100% certainty that UW Medicine will negotiate in good faith, but we are encouraged by the fact that they approached our union team first with the idea of an economic reopener. However, we are prepared to walk away from the table if we sense that UW is not taking the process seriously and their proposals are too far from our values and the standards we’ve set for ourselves.

We’ve made it very clear to UW Medicine that we do not intend to drag this out. We will be negotiating under a compressed bargaining timeline, starting in August. But before we begin bargaining, all dues-paying union members in SEIU Healthcare 1199NW will have the opportunity to vote to approve our bargaining priorities — this is what we call proposal votes.

We know our coworkers have left for higher-paying jobs in other healthcare systems. In order to have consistent staffing in our departments, UW needs to be competitive in wages and provide an economic package that will recruit, retain and safely staff our hospitals and clinics.

If we reach an agreement during this economic reopener, we can count on important economic improvements taking effect soon thereafter. That will be really good news, and we will vote as a membership to ratify the agreement if our bargaining team recommends so. After ratification, our next steps will be to build on those improvements in our departments and workplaces. We have many labor-management committees, and our coworkers who serve on those committees will continue their ongoing work to ensure management is following our contract.

If we don’t reach an agreement or if we vote as a membership to reject a contract extension, we will prepare to go back to the bargaining table in 2023 and we will immediately prepare to harness the full power of our unity — standing with our bargaining team, taking public actions, leveraging our community’s solidarity, activating the support of our 34,000+ fellow union members, and the backing of the 2+ million members in our international union, SEIU. All provisions of our current contract are in place until the contract expires on June 30, 2023, at which point we can hold informational pickets and other actions.

We have a bargaining team made up of our coworkers from a diverse range of departments, job classes, and racial and other identities. We nominated them to make decisions about our proposals and determine what action steps we need to take to win a great economic agreement for our contract.

There is a role for everyone to play, and we need strong teams in every department. The most important step to take is to sign a union membership card and encourage our coworkers to do the same. Talk to a delegate or your organizer to share your ideas and learn more about how you and your coworkers can contribute to winning the best agreement possible.

Yes! We will be holding periodic unity breaks starting the first week of bargaining at a central location on each campus. Unity breaks will be our opportunity to hear directly from the bargaining team. In addition, we’ll distribute weekly bulletins with the most current information, and those bulletins will contain QR codes to access bargaining updates online. Visit respectuwcaregivers.org to find the latest information.