First, what is a Labor-Management meeting?
Representatives of the nurses and management meet at least monthly to discuss issues related to working conditions and the administration of the joint Backus Federation of Nurses/Backus Hospital contract. Often, it involves interpretation of the contract language.
For instance, there was some misunderstanding about when vacations can be requested and approved. (how far in advance)
We now have an understanding that should work for both sides. Vacations for winter prime time are submitted in July and for summer prime time in January. Vacations the rest of the year are submitted up to 6 months in advance for full week vacations. We are currently in discussions about partial week vacations and single days off and we'll work it out.
There are a handful of nurses who have issues concerning their wage increases. We've worked out a solution for some of them and we are all considering a possible solution for the rest. Again, we'll work it out.
Scheduling was a big topic Tuesday.
The first thing we need to acknowledge is that patient care needs come first.
Second, the financial stability of the hospital is in everyone's best interest is everyone's responsibility.
Third, prior to the contract the hospital had the right to change schedules and work assignments as they saw fit. Some changes had been planned, but had to be put on hold, because of negotiations.
Under the contract the hospital retains many of these rights that are needed to run the hospital.
Some of these rights are modified, and with some, any effect on the nurses must be negotiated.
Any changes in scheduling will be rolled out in an orderly manner, with advance notice so nurses can make plans. They will be discussed at Labor-Management, and no changes will be made just for the sake of making a change, nor will any be "because of the contract".
Here's an example. We are currently discussing the proper way to handle requests for days off for education. Both sides want to encourage education and understand the need at times for a certain schedule to accommodate, but we also recognize that when one nurse's schedule changes it effects every other nurse's schedule.
We discussed several options and will meet again to continue the discussion. We'll work it out. The point is, it will be a joint discussion and agreement.
The contract has been reviewed and signed and we are making copies. You will all get one soon.
One great way to get a contract is to come to our open house, next Tuesday, 12 noon till 5pm at your union office, 308 Salem Turnpike. Nominations for officers will be from 12-2 and voting from 2-5. We will have food.
We are off to a good start with Labor-Management meetings. We are building a good working relationship, but it will take time. There will be misunderstandings and misinterpretations on both sides, but we will work them out. If something doesn't sound right to you, if you don't understand why something is so, please ask.
As with all relationships, their needs to be a joint willingness to work at it, at Labor-Management meetings we have achieved that.