Throughout the Michigan Medicine and UMPNC negotiations beginning in January 2018, routine updates will be posted about discussion topics and bargaining activities.
Update posted 5/25/18
Orientation and visiting nurses
The bargaining teams began this week discussing orientation for new nurses joining Michigan Medicine. UMPNC discussed their interest in having visibility with new nurses to orient them to the union. This remains an open issue requiring further discussion.
The second topic of the week was Michigan Visiting Nurses, who provide home care skilled nursing and rehabilitation services. The issues discussed included workload, visits per day, maintaining safety in the home care environment, and competitiveness relative to other home care agencies. The bargaining teams had lengthy discussion over the current state for our home health nurses and opportunities to continue to address concerns. The University’s bargaining team identified for the union mechanisms already contained in the contract that can be utilized to address ongoing concerns.
Update posted 5/18/18
Support for Nurse Practitioners
This week the bargaining teams focused on issues relevant to Nurse Practitioners. The University maintains a strong interest being able to recruit and retain excellent NP’s; compensating them in a competitive, market-based fashion; and supporting their ability to practice to their full scope. The negotiations focused on specific provisions in the contract that apply to NPs but differ for other nurses, including holidays and shift differentials, evaluations by individuals best equipped make them, workload, pay rates that appropriately reflect experience levels, and maintaining market competitiveness and rewarding strong performers. While there was robust discussion and some progress in these areas, dialogue will continue related the compensation of NPs.
Update posted 5/10/18
Focus on Staffing, Health and Wellness
This week, the bargaining teams continued to focus attention on safe staffing. Maintaining staffing levels that ensures the safest patient care is a high priority for both bargaining teams. During this week’s bargaining sessions, the University emphasized its commitment to maintaining a model where nurses at the bedside play an important role in the decisions as to staffing that supports safe patient care. While the Union acknowledged that the University maintains good nursing staffing levels, the bargaining teams continued to negotiate and generated options intended to enhance mechanisms already contained in the contract that address decisions for safe staffing.
The bargaining teams also addressed ways that the parties can work together to support nurses’ access to health and wellness resources at the University and heard the Union’s concerns about access to parking.
The bargaining teams devoted four full days to bargaining this week and a meeting in separate caucuses to prepare for future bargaining sessions. Because it is important to the University to reach agreement before June 30 to ensure that all nurses receive step increases and any other negotiated wage increases without delay, the bargaining teams will convene for four full days next week to continue negotiations.
Update posted 5/4/2018
Progress on sexual harassment and other additional data points
This week the bargaining teams returned to the topic of sexual harassment and the importance of maintaining a safe environment for all of our employees. Discussions on this issue have generated productive negotiations over building awareness of employee rights, raising education and awareness of sexual harassment, generating awareness of the process to file complaints, and creating support mechanisms for nurses throughout the entire process of escalating concerns. The bargaining teams worked together to explore the creation of a steering committee under the nursing contract that will be specifically charged with addressing the matters listed above, in collaboration with campus resources. They will continue the collaborative work to finalize the details of how this sexual harassment steering committee will function.
Staffing was also revisited for a very brief discussion. Historically, Michigan Medicine has staffed in the 75 percentile to ensure high-quality patient care. Further discussions will occur about ways to continue safe staffing that maintains our high standards of care.
Several nurse practitioners also visited the bargaining teams to provide perspective on their work experiences, and how their workload impacts their work hours and life balance. Our nurse practitioners play an important role in the delivery of care to our patients, and have specific and unique issues related to their experiences when compared to their other nurse colleagues covered by our nursing contract. Therefore, it was important for the bargaining teams to hear first-hand from the nurse practitioners about their experiences in order to address their specific issues in future contract negotiations.
Finally, the University Benefits Office presented information showing how Michigan Medicine retirement savings benefits compare to other local and national peer institutions. This benchmarking study, consisting of 11 local and national peers, is performed annually. The study shows that the University offers a highly competitive benefits package, with the Michigan Medicine retirement savings plan rating 36 percent above the peer average in total value, and ranking in the top three of the 11 peer institutions. The value and competitiveness of the compensation and benefit plans offered to employees will be an important consideration in these negotiations as the bargaining teams continue to explore ways to invest in employees in order to attract and retain excellent nurses, while maintaining long-term sustainability in compensation and benefits plans.
Update posted 4/27/18
This week’s negotiations began with a discussion on retirement savings. Currently, the University offers a highly competitive retirement savings plan for nurses and all employees, and remains committed to exploring ways to support long term sustainability of our retirement savings plans. Any potential changes to the retirement savings plan will continue to be negotiated as part of the broader total compensation and benefits package.
The topic of sexual harassment was revisited, with a focus on fleshing out the details to select options both bargaining teams brought forth previously. These details support increasing nurses’ ability to recognize sexual harassment, utilize existing resources to file complaints, and identify retaliatory responses. The bargaining teams will continue to discuss some additional options raised this week, which will be considered in the context of campus-wide resources and policies to address sexual harassment.
A third topic broached this week was tuition reimbursement and the implications of the 2025 requirement for a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) for nurse practitioners. Currently, Michigan Medicine and university policies reimburse for education up to the Masters level only. Additional discussions will need to address tuition reimbursement for doctorate degrees for the specific jobs that will require this level of education to practice.
Updated posted 4/20/18
Problem solving: overtime and payroll complexity
This week, the bargaining teams continued brainstorming ideas that could help monitor and control mandatory overtime with the goal of simplifying many pay rules contained in the contract. They also negotiated over shift differentials and weekend bonuses with the goal of paying competitive rates and encouraging nurses to work off-shifts and weekends. Presently, the contract pay rules determine when the University will pay increased overtime rates because a unit has reached its trigger limit or when a nurse has reached his/her individual overtime limit, and are complicated to interpret and cannot be automated in our payroll process. While the overall goal is to work towards a more automated payroll process, the University is also committed to ensuring that nurses are not exposed to burdensome overtime hours and are able to maintain work-life balance while also ensuring safe patient care. Further discussions will continue in future negotiation sessions to refine a comprehensive compensation package that addresses overtime triggers, individual overtime limits, wages, and shift differentials for hours worked on off-shifts and weekends.
Update posted 4/13/18
This week’s negotiations focused on compensation, which impacts Michigan Medicine’s ability to retain excellent nurses and remain competitive in recruiting nurses from local, regional, and for some sub-specialties, national markets. There was general consensus to continue with step increases in compensation in the future, and the bargaining teams began discussions about the amount of specific “across the board” percentage increases. Additionally, the University presented the Union with options for increasing the new graduate rate to help improve market competitiveness and support recruitment of nurses. Negotiations over increases will continue and agreements on compensation increases will also be influenced by the outcome of further discussions on other bargaining issues that have financial impact.
Dave Spahlinger, UMHS President, and Paul Castillo, Chief Financial Officer, attended negotiations on Wednesday to discuss the health system’s clinical network strategy and financial position. The clinical network strategy reflects the desire to improve patient access to care, to serve patients across the state and become the preferred provider for high-acuity care. This strategy will also create future job growth in the health system. While the health system’s current financial position is positive, it is not adequate to fund the desired future investments in both people and new and existing facilities needed to improve patient access to care. In order to grow, which benefits both patients and employees, the organization needs to identify additional ways to fund the investments that will enable its strategic priorities.
Update posted 4/6/18
Fine-tuning the details
This week the bargaining teams continued to refine details about various approaches to managing staffing for variable activity. Staffing for variable activity presents challenges for nurses and unit directors alike, and it is important for the University to reduce situations where nurses are sent home during low census while other nurses face overtime hours and limitations on using their PTO. It is also important to us to alleviate anxiety over working on another unit for nurses who float and to build and maintain a support system for these nurses. As a result, the bargaining teams took additional time to discuss the details associated with managing staffing for variable activity, as they impact our nurses’ ability to maintain work-life balance and our ability to provide the safest patient care. Continued work is ongoing to reach an agreement on these terms.
The teams also discussed attendance and refining the process for handling unscheduled absences and problem solving meetings between nurses and managers designed to address the root cause of potential attendance problems. The goal of this discussion was to allow access to union representation that will enable the problem solving meetings to occur in a timely fashion, as well as find ways to provide nurses with greater flexibility in the event of unforeseen challenges to attendance, such as personal illness.
Negotiations around payroll and its complexity also continued this week. This topic included various approaches to simplify and standardize compensation practices for mandatory overtime, off-shift and weekend pay to enable automation of a payroll system and support accurate payroll. As both bargaining teams continue to address work/life balance for nurses and the importance of having staff available to support safe patient care, they also discussed the Role Specific Advancement Model (RSAM) nurses and finding ways to permit flexible work hours when their specific roles call for them to fulfill their roles outside of their normal shift hours.
Because the teams are committed to concluding negotiations before contract expiration, they agreed to further increase bargaining days to 4 days/week for two weeks in April. This time is incremental to the three days per week already scheduled in April. The groups also agreed to increase bargaining time to 5 days per week in June if needed, and discuss any schedule adjustments needed in May after ongoing assessments.
Update posted 3/30/18
Further discussions on staffing
Discussions continued this week on potential ways to address staffing for variable activity, which is a critical component for maintaining quality and safe patient care. Several different approaches are under consideration to increase our ability to deploy nurses to specific units based on patient needs, without mandatory floating.
Other issues related to staffing were also discussed, including nurses’ access to use of paid time off, attendance management and use of central staffing resources. Identifying ways to improve how we staff for variable activity will help address all of these issues raised this week. Further discussions on these topics are anticipated to continue next week.
Update posted 3/23/18
Staffing to optimize safety and quality
This week, the bargaining teams spent the majority of time discussing staffing for variable activity, an important subject in past negotiations. The ability to safely staff for fluctuations in high and low patient census poses challenges and frustrations for nurses and managers alike. Recognizing an important opportunity to partner to do ground-breaking work together in this area, negotiations this week included a literature review of the pros and cons of floating and measures that can be taken to improve the experience for our nurses. The bargaining teams also identified other contract provisions, aside from floating, that could increase opportunities to staff for variable activity. Staffing to address these patient fluctuations is critical to maintaining quality care, and the bargaining teams discussed many broad concepts intended to increase opportunities to deploy nurses to units where staffing is needed and to alleviate their anxiety around patient safety in these situations. Because of the importance and complexity of these issues, staffing discussions will continue next week.
The bargaining teams also discussed issues related to UMPNC’s representation of nurses, including compliance with the current law on dues collections, and communication venues available for the union to access and inform its membership.
Update posted 3/16/18
Roadmap to agreement, investments in people
This week, the bargaining teams agreed to establish a negotiation “roadmap,” setting a schedule for negotiating all issues and directing attention to items that are most important to both Michigan Medicine and UMPNC as soon as possible. The roadmap will also serve to monitor progress to meet the parties’ mutual goal of concluding negotiations prior to the June 30 contract expiration date.
The bargaining teams also reached a tentative agreement on Michigan Medicine’s commitment to invest in its people through professional development and certifications. Professional development funds presently available to nurses will be increased. Partial reimbursements for national certifications will also be available upon certification completion and renewal, which serves to elevate nursing practice across the institution.
The MiTime team provided an informational presentation outlining the current payroll state and challenges in moving to an automated payroll system. Complex pay rules that currently exist in the nursing contract present barriers to payroll automation. This is an important issue that will be discussed in the near future.
Update posted 3/9/18
Commitment for additional bargaining time
This week’s negotiations began with a discussion of the results of an external peer review survey to benchmark pay, pay practices and benefits. A total of 11 local, regional and national health care organizations responded to the survey that was jointly created by Michigan Medicine and UMPNC. Survey results indicate that Michigan Medicine is competitive with the survey respondents in overall compensation and benefits. The primary area of opportunity is the automation and flexibility of scheduling that would help eliminate the need for mandatory overtime.
The negotiation topics this week included attendance management and the use of incremental PTO once the bidding process for PTO is complete. The bargaining teams did not reach resolution on either topic, so both will be addressed at a later date.
To ensure time for meaningful negotiations on all issues while supporting our commitment to reaching a ratified agreement by June 30, the bargaining teams agreed to increase negotiations to three days per week (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday), and reserve every other Thursday for individual team preparation and meeting time. This updated schedule will begin Mar. 12.
Update posted 3/2/18
Ensuring safe return to work practices
This week the bargaining teams are finalizing a tentative agreement on an approach to ensure safety to practice for nurses returning from long-term disability. The teams agreed to convene a joint work group to develop the process for individual case assessments of abilities, skills, competencies, and additional needs that will enable nurses to be successful in the current clinical setting after a lengthy disability-related leave of absence. The tentative agreement will also provide nurses with access to funding within a specific time period of a long-term disability leave to maintain the certifications needed to practice.
In addition, to ensure clarity on contract terms, the teams agreed to language to clearly define the phrase “emergency reduction in operations” as distinguished from a “closure.” These specific definitions provide clear direction on actions to be taken under the contract and help prevent misunderstandings or incorrect application of contract terms.
Update posted 2/23/18
Potential additional level in the Framework
One of the primary topics in the bargaining sessions this week was the Professional Development Framework and Role Specific Advancement Model (RSAM), compensation models with evidence-based behaviors as the criteria for advancement. Because Michigan Medicine strives to recognize and reward nurses for excellence in patient care at the bedside, the Framework and RSAM are important topics worthy of robust discussion. Much of the discussion focused on the potential addition of a new level within the Framework and RSAM which would recognize the clinical behaviors and advanced degrees that elevate nursing practice. The criteria to achieve this level was not finalized, and more discussion will occur at a later time.
As a follow-up to the previous discussion on sexual harassment, representatives from Office of Clinical Affairs (OCA), Faculty Development, and Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) provided an overview of their process to intake, investigate and manage complaints of sexual harassment. They also discussed how each group remains connected throughout the process to follow each particular case as appropriate. Additional discussions on this topic will also occur in the future.
Update posted 2/16/18
Concerns about sexual harassment
This week’s bargaining sessions focused on topics that are important to all of us to maintain a safe environment for our patients and employees: sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviors in the workplace, concerns of retaliation and the process for raising concerns. The bargaining teams discussed their specific concerns, and potential options that would discourage inappropriate interactions between employees. Examples of some options discussed include training to recognize inappropriate behaviors, raising awareness of nurses’ rights and how to raise concerns, mechanisms to keep nurses informed about the status of their complaints, and developing victim advocacy and resource groups within nursing. Representatives from OIE, Human Resources, and the Employee Assistance Program attended some of Monday’s session to discuss the University’s current policies to address harassment. The Office of Clinical Affairs and Faculty Affairs will also be invited to participate in next week’s session to discuss their process for handling complaints of sexual harassment. Because this is a very important topic that warrants focused time and attention, the bargaining teams will continue to discuss outstanding issues at a future time during negotiations.
Update posted 2/9/18
Initial negotiation issues
This week’s bargaining sessions began with discussions about how the bargaining teams would frame their issues in terms of specificity and detail in order to best facilitate the interest-based problem solving process. After exchanging bargaining issues, the discussion focused on which issues to negotiate first. The first issue to be discussed next week will be how nurses can effectively raise concerns of sexual harassment or other inappropriate behaviors. The bargaining teams will also discuss nurses with Masters, PhD, and Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees in conjunction with changes to the model of care in the Professional Development Framework. The Professional Development Framework provides employees whose primary role is in direct patient care with an opportunity to advance within a compensation model based on evidence that they have met behaviors contained in the domains of nursing practice. For these two topics, the bargaining teams have agreed to invite subject matter experts to share with the group their insights on process and other considerations that may inform negotiations.
Update posted 2/2/18
Ground rules set and issues identified
In this week’s negotiation sessions, the bargaining groups finalized the ground rules and meeting protocols that will guide the discussions throughout the bargaining process. They also began the process of exchanging issues to be discussed in the coming months, and clarified the specific concerns under each issue. Identifying the focal points for each issue provides the framing for future problem solving discussions.
Update posted 1/26/18
Interest-based training kicks off nursing negotiations
The two negotiation teams kicked off the process by participating in interest-based bargaining training over the course of three days. The primary tenet of interest-based bargaining is to share issues, identify similar interests and negotiate a mutually beneficial outcome. During this training, the group discussed ground rules for engagement and agreed upon the negotiation process. To facilitate this discussion, the group also used teambuilding activities and bargaining exercises to build a better understanding of effective interest-based negotiation processes and skills. The group also discussed and agreed upon ground rules for engagement throughout the negotiation process.