The University of Washington is at the epicenter of our state's fight against COVID-19. SEIU 925 members serve on the front lines of this crisis: in labs, emergency rooms, patient financial services, IT, and other important roles to keep UW running.
Check your email inboxes for the latest information. If you are not receiving emails and would like to, contact your union organizer.
After 15 hours at the bargaining table with UW over furloughs/temporary layoffs, we reached an impasse in the early hours of May 23.
UW is committed to issuing furlough/temporary layoff notices THIS MONDAY, May 25.
We will be filing charges of Unfair Labor Practices against UW with the state's Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC), as well as individual and group grievances for violating our contract.
We remain hopeful that UW will rejoin us at the bargaining table and that our legal avenues will be victorious. However, in the meantime, real people will be dealing with the real consequences of UW's irresponsible actions.
Please see below for more information on:
A summary of our talks over the past weeks and months with UW
What UW has stated they will and will not do
What to expect on Monday
Resources for anyone who gets a furlough/layoff notice: Housing, Healthcare, & other Options
As union members, we believe we are stronger together. Please stay tuned for updates on your rights if you receive a furlough/temporary layoff notice.
Bargaining and our earlier Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with UW
On May 11, Paul Ramsay announced that UW Medicine employees would be subject to furloughs/temporary layoffs to compensate for reduced revenue due to COVID-19. SEIU 925 members, while not happy with the University’s decision, understand that decreased volumes, especially in areas such as elective surgeries, have resulted in decreased revenues. While we don’t think “heroes” should be treated this way, we agreed that bargaining the impacts of these temporary layoffs would be our best course of action moving forward.
The week prior to Dr. Ramsay’s announcement, we completed a weeks-long process of bargaining a plan for fairness in implementation of temporary layoffs, with the expectation that non-medical staff would be the first subject to possible reductions. We signed that agreement, minutes before Dr. Ramsay’s email arrived in your inboxes. This agreement states the following:
No notifications for temporary layoffs will occur until May 4.
The employer will ensure temporary layoffs occur by department in inverse seniority order by most recent date of UW hire.
The Union(s) will be provided the temporary layoff plans for each impacted individual.
Notice of early return to work or extension of temporary layoff shall be made verbally and confirmed by email.
Employees may utilize 8 hours per month of eligible paid time off to maintain their healthcare. Employees will continue to accrue vacation time off and sick time off while on furlough. Employees will continue to receive all paid holidays while on furlough.
Should any other bargaining unit receive more favorable terms, SEIU 925 and/or WFSE may file a demand to bargain and propose similar terms.
Nothing in this agreement is a waiver by either SEIU 925 or WFSE to bargain the impacts to future working conditions or layoffs related or not to Covid-19.
Employees on furlough are still considered to be employed and thus still eligible to receive the July 25 lump sum payments prescribed in the MOU titled “Supplemental Payment.”
Earlier this week, we spent hours reviewing documents provided to us by the University and reaching out to members. The University then informed us that the largest document they provided, a spreadsheet of affected members, was largely inaccurate. On Thursday, we began bargaining the impacts of the layoffs with the University. Our intent was to reach an agreement with the University on Friday. We resumed bargaining Friday morning but by the early hours of Saturday, the University stated that we would not reach an agreement without surrendering our contractual layoff language and refused to engage further with us on several other important issues raised by members.
As of May 23, the University has informed us that they:
Will not honor our seniority agreement as outlined in our contract and the MOU listed above. And that they will assign involuntary layoffs based on arbitrary “competence and skill set.”
Will not provide temporary layoff plans beyond a list of who they expect to be affected.
Will not honor their designated layoff weeks. They will expect us to be available to return to work within 48 hours if they call us back mid-layoff.
Will not honor our long-standing contract language for 30-days notice of involuntary layoff
Decline to describe any scenario in which you should expect to return to work early, regardless of whether or not they achieve the financial goals of the furlough program early. Success for the UW Medicine means bleeding as much cash out of us as they can.
Cannot agree to an end date for temporary layoffs.
Will not tell us who will be doing our work while we are on temporary layoff.
Will not provide us with the actual cost savings.
Will not take into consideration that several SEIU 925 members have been the victim of fraud at the Employment Security Department, and will have difficulty establishing a claim for unemployment compensation. (This is especially egregious in that it is believed that the data breach came in part from UW’s unnecessary sharing of our personal data with another state university.)
To be clear: At no time did we object to 925 members volunteering for temporary layoff prior to the end of their 30-day notice. We’ve heard from members that want the contract honored so that they have time to prepare for temporary layoff. We’ve also heard from members that they want to get the temporary layoff over as early as possible. We know that some managers told folks they could not volunteer “because of the Unions.” In fact, we urge our fellow members to do the following:
Volunteer for an early temporary layoff and take advantage of the additional $600/week provided by the CARES Act—this is scheduled to end on July 25. Be sure to notify your supervisor/manager of your interest in a voluntary temporary layoff before May 29.
Not leaving town as originally planned for your vacation? Immediately request that your vacation be converted to temporary layoff.
If you are involuntarily laid off and your less-senior coworkers are not, report it to our union.
While on temporary layoff, do not take phone calls or emails from your supervisor/manager to answer questions about your work—it is illegal for the University to ask you to work without providing compensation. Report this behavior to our union.*
Report to our union if you see a manager or someone who is not in an SEIU 925 position doing the work of SEIU 925 members—contract violation and also illegal.*
Report to our union if you miss rest or lunch breaks due to understaffing—contract violation and illegal.*
*Keep your eye on your email for the launch of our new reporting website!
What to expect on Monday, May 25:
The University has told us that they plan to issue temporary layoff notices on Monday. The vast majority of these notices will not have specific days/weeks that you will be on temporary layoff.
Your supervisor/manager will discuss with you your plan for layoff.
Report to our Union anything mentioned above. Also, report any violations of the UW’s Temporary Layoff Policy https://hr.uw.edu/coronavirus/workforce-reduction-strategies/temporary-layoff-policy/
Refer to our union’s website for information on resources available to 925 members who may be struggling financially as a result of Covid-19: http://seiu925.org/covid19
Chapter leaders have been in bargaining with UW and have reached agreements regarding exposure at work, leave options, pay, and other protections. (You can read the full agreements here. Summaries are below.) The agreements are effective March 2nd through May 15th.
While we continue to bargain for job protections for union members who do not work in the medical centers or clinics, we have made headway for those of us who are UW Medicine clinical employees, and all other staff that UW Administration considers exempt from the protections and programs we lobbied for at the state and federal level. We are still bargaining the conditions of UW's possible temporary layoffs for non-clinical staff, and have presented a proposal on hazard pay that the UW has thus far rejected.
Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
The UW, as permitted by law, has deemed all employees working in the Medical Centers and associated clinics ineligible for new federal FFCRA benefits like expanded paid sick leave or family medical leave. They included Hall Health, Rubenstein Pharmacy, and some School of Medicine and School of Pharmacy employees who do clinical work as ineligible. However, SEIU 925 members, in unity with other campus unions, have secured protections for our work during this pandemic. Clinical staff can now go to work knowing that if we test positive for COVID-19, UW will not contest that we were exposed at work. The agreement includes protections for those of us in the “at risk” group and protects those of us who get redeployed. Moving forward we have the strong guarantees we need, but we are disappointed and angered by what it took to get this agreement. And we still don’t have agreement regarding non-clinical campus members on such issues as temporary layoffs and hazard pay; but these non-medical staff do have access to all of the benefits of the FFCRA.
We have provided extraordinary care and have collaborated well with many of our immediate supervisors in this crisis. Despite this partnership to provide quality care with our local teams, UW Medicine Administration has refused to take our safety and value to the community seriously. We will not forget that we had to fight for nearly 6 weeks and work with elected officials to pass legislation and change government administrative policies to get UW to do the right thing. Many healthcare employers in our community partnered with union healthcare workers to come to timely agreements with these same protections. UW administration shamefully stood alone in delaying protections for frontline staff.
Our voice in politics matters
To win these protections we called on elected officials who have been longtime champions of labor to stand with us in this critical time. New legislation and administrative rule changes have greatly expanded our ability to stay safe at work, and have economic security.
- L&I will assume all healthcare workers testing positive for COVID-19 were exposed at work
- Unemployment expansions to allow more at-risk members stay home when denied an accommodation to work from home
- Unemployment expansions to protect lost work
- Expanded access to child care through the County
- Free parking on city streets
For Clinical Medical Staff
- Medical clinical staff not permitted to work due to an exposure of COVID-19 we will receive paid administrative leave.
- Our pay and benefits will be kept whole if we test positive for COVID-19
- If we are positive, we need to file for workers compensation within 48 hours of our test results, and the UW will provide the difference between our workers compensation and regular wages
- Notice will be provided as soon as possible if the Employer learns we are exposed
Protections for Redeployment (this applies to ANY employee who is redeployed to a clinical job)
- Our FTEs will be guaranteed when we are redeployed
- Volunteers will be asked before mandatory redeployment when possible
- Redeployment should be rotated by seniority or utilizing already established unit float lists
- $4.00/hour reassignment premium when we are reassigned or floated outside of our home department or regular work site
- No Standby or On Call shifts when we are reassigned unless mutually agreed
- UW will provide appropriate PPE following UW Medicine COVID-19 guidelines
- No discipline or retaliation for advocating for the PPE we believe is necessary
- Training will be provided when we are reassigned
Protections for At Risk Employees (this applies to all members)
- At risk employees can ask for an accommodation or medical leave
- At risk group defined by King County Public Health including individuals older than 60
- Employees not granted an accommodation will have access to Unemployment Insurance
- Employees will be allowed to work from home for 8 hours in order to maintain benefits
- Telework or alternative assignments may be provided
- Access to shared leave or can apply for Paid Family Medical Leave
Protections that cover all of us
UW Administration tried excluding those of us who work at Hall Health, Rubenstein Pharmacy, and Medical and Pharmacy School clinical employees from the same protections guaranteed to every other UW healthcare worker. Our solidarity ensured these members are not left behind and without protection by UW Administration.
But our fight continues! We are still bargaining the conditions of possible temporary layoffs for non-clinical staff, and have presented a proposal on hazard pay that the UW has thus far rejected. And later this spring, we will begin bargaining our 2021-2023 contract. It is imperative that we stay strong in our unity and continue to demand justice in our workplace.
Contact the SEIU 925 Member Resource Center toll-free at 1-877-734-8673 if you have any questions.
If this public health pandemic has shown us anything, it is how connected we all are to each other: as a union. Click here for stories of how SEIU 925 members are rising to the challenge.
You can also check our Facebook page for resources and general information on our union’s response to COVID-19.