In April 1997 the Registered Nurses at Copley Hospital voted for union representation. We developed and voted on our constitution (the rules of the union). We nominated and held elections for officers, representatives and our negotiating committee. The union negotiated in good faith until April 30, 1998 at which time negotiations broke down over patient care and professional practice issues. The Copley Hospital Registered Nurses voted by an overwhelming margin to reject the hospital’s “final offer” and begin a strike April 30th 1998. The strike lasted 30 days.

The strike issues were:

  • Resource Pool – Staff the hospital with one big float pool.
  • Staffing – Hospital refused to put any staffing levels in the contract.
  • RTO – Required time off was a policy that applied to RNs and though it applied to other employees it was rarely implemented. The hospital sent nurses home without pay and without limit if census dropped. The hospital also required nurses to be on call for $2.00 per hour in case the hospital needed them back.
  • 12 hr shifts were eliminated by the hospital
  • Work schedules – Hospital refused to assure every other weekend off and refused limits on shift rotation

The Union at Copley Hospital has made great gains since that strike in 1998, especially when defending and addressing patient care and professional practice issues. The United Nurses & Allied Professionals, Local 5109 collective bargaining agreement reflects those positive gains.

Resource Pool:
The union successfully negotiated all unit based positions and the elimination of the Resource pool.

Job Security:
·        The nurses successfully negotiated guarantee of hours.

·        When the Union was formed in 1997, wages for our members at Copley were among the lowest in the state. With the strength of the union, the research department, and bargaining expertise, wages have risen substantially and there is now a salary scale with annual cost of living increases and step increases on anniversary dates.

Tuition Reimbursement:
·        $3,000.00/year tuition reimbursement prorated. 4,200 for nights prorated.

Clinical Ladders Program:
·        Successfully revised clinical ladder program.
·        Increased clinical ladders compensation.

Professional Practice Committee
·        A committee of three nurses selected by the union and three nurses selected by the hospital meet regularly as equals to deal with professional issues including staffing, recruitment, retention, nursing practice, education, and quality issues.

  • Job Posting Qualifications:
    Required job qualifications are standard for each nursing unit

    Posting & Filling Vacancies:
    All vacancies must be posted so that all interested members can apply. Copley can not hire anyone outside the hospital if a qualified member applies. Vacancies must be filled from candidates within the hospital based upon qualifications and seniority not favoritism.

    Grievance Procedure To Enforce All Of Your Rights:
  • The Union grievance procedure provides any member the right to challenge any term or condition of employment guaranteed by the Union contract. Labor relations experts employed by the Union including labor lawyers are available for research, representation and advice.
  • The Union grievance procedure’s final step is arbitration where a neutral third party makes the final decision and the employee is represented by a union representative.
  • Legal representation is provided at no cost to the Union member.
  • A grievance is based upon the Union contract which is a legal document not the hospital’s vague personnel policy. The Union contract is voted on by the members and printed for everyone to have a copy.
  • The Union contract can not be changed by the administration. It must be negotiated and approved by members first.
  • The Union has won 75% of arbitrations and every unfair labor practice.

Employee Discipline:
Employees can only be disciplined for just cause. A disciplined employee has the right to union representation. The hospital carries the burden of proof. The employee can challenge discipline before a neutral third party and be represented by professional staff.

Job Assignments:
The contract prohibits the hospital from assigning an employee to duties and tasks for which they have not been oriented and trained. Work schedules must be posted at least 12 days prior to the first day of the period covered by the schedule.  Such schedules may not be changed unilaterally by supervisors thereafter.

Increased night, evening, weekend and charge differentials.

Education Oversight Committee:
Committee of three bargaining unit members (selected by the union) and the nurse educator. The committee:
Monitors and reviews education expenditures
Conducts annual educational needs surveys
Recommends and prioritizes in-services
Reviews resources and recommends new purchases

Nursing Quality Committee:
Committee of four bargaining unit members (selected by the union) and one or more hospital representatives. The committee:
Gathers and analyzes data.
Provides research to develop recommendations to insure evidence-based quality nursing care.

Hours of Work:
NO required time off.
Non-traditional shifts established including 12, 10 and 8 hour shifts
While Copley is a seven day a week twenty four hour a day operation, that doesn’t mean that employee work schedules are determined at the whim of the hospital. The Union has negotiated extensive protections and rights regarding assignment to regular shifts, a minimum of every other weekend off, and fair holiday and vacation scheduling.

Mandatory OT:
The Union negotiated limits to mandatory overtime.  Mandatory overtime shall not exceed four (4) hours (two (2) hours on nights and shall not occur more than once per posted schedule. Employees can only be mandated to cover unplanned absences that arise with less than eight hours notice.

Shift Rotation:
Eliminated shift rotation for evening and night shift positions.
Rotations of day shift positions, limited to a maximum of 20% of regularly scheduled hours per calendar quarter.

Since the beginning of the Union in 1997, any employee who is on-call must be paid at the on-call rate. If an employee is not being paid to be on-call, the hospital can not require the employee to be available or come in to work if called.

Health Insurance:
Coverage shall remain substantially equivalent and union must be afforded opportunity to provide input regarding any changes.
Shifted 5% of the cost to employer

The single most important accomplishment by the union is representation rights in all matters that are related to compensation and/or working conditions. The union represents everyone together in negotiating better pay, benefits and working conditions. Just as important, the union represents individual members on any workplace issue.

Short Notice pay:
Increased from $1.00 per hour to one and one half times hourly rate
Previously excluded  if on overtime –  now  included with overtime (double time if on overtime and short notice)

Per Diems:
Some accomplishments that are specific to Per Diems RN’s are:

Eliminated requirements to be available sixteen (16) weekend hours per month.
Created Seasonal Per Diem position.
Must be given eight – (8) hours notice to be called off for a shift. If called with less than eight – (8) hours notice, the Per Diem Nurse may opt to come in to work or can volunteer to be off.
Defined process for allocating shifts equitably to Per Diems.
Maintained 15% “incentive component” to wage.
Increased weekend differential to $3 per hour for per diems.
Eligible to participate in Clinical Ladders program – now incorporated into Clinical Steps Program.
Eligible for re-imbursement for job-related seminars and in-services by September 1st of the fiscal year provided that we have unspent education funds.

Together we can and do make a difference!!