Tacoma General nurses say no to extra shifts in weeklong boycott

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Nurses at MultiCare Health System's Tacoma (Wash.) General Hospital are taking a stand against hospital work practices by boycotting voluntary overtime and extra shifts from Nov. 10 to Nov. 17, reports The News Tribune.

The nurses, represented by the Washington State Nurses Association, have claimed they are being stretched to the limit, covering more than the nationally recommended number of patients far too often and being called frequently to pick up extra hours and shifts, according to a union news release.
"The nurses at Tacoma General feel like we have to stand up for our patients and for safe patient care," Renata Bowlden, RN, a Washington State Nurses Association bargaining team member, said in a statement. "For nearly a year the nurses at Tacoma General have been trying to address our concerns at the bargaining table, and we feel like we're not being listened to ... We hope turning down voluntary overtime and extra shifts will demonstrate to management in a very concrete way that the nurses are being stretched too thin."

The nurses' boycott comes amid discussions between the nursing union and MultiCare.

The union said several issues on the negotiating table are safe staffing, rest breaks and wages and benefits.

A key sticking point is the hospital's "break buddy" system, which allows a nurse to take two 15-minute breaks per shift while a colleague watches over the patients assigned to both nurses, according to the report. An arbitrator said the practice should be discontinued and the hospital instead should hire a dedicated nurse to cover breaks, the report states. Hospital representatives said in the report that the "break buddy" system is "the most flexible, efficient and cost-effective solution."

MultiCare spokeswoman Marce Edwards told The News Tribune the hospital system was aware some nurses would decline extra shifts starting Thursday.

"We have made preparations for this and are confident that we will continue to be able to take care of the patients who come to us for care," she wrote in an emailed statement to the publication.


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