In the spring of 2018, some of the Emergency Department RNs at ACMC were surprised to learn their vacation requests were denied because their time off requests overlapped their “weekend to work.” The nurses requesting vacation time off spoke with their immediate supervisor who assured them their vacation requests would be “worked out.” The supervisor failed to follow through on her promise and the RNs were forced to file a grievance.
During the winter of 2018 and the spring of 2019, more PTO requests were submitted and more denials were issued – this time with PTO dates crossed out and other dates suggested. As a result, the nurses filed two more grievances.
For 14 months, ONA urged the hospital to work with us to settle the vacation request denials. it was in everyone’s interest to resolve this dispute amicably rather than through the time and expense associated with an arbitration. Unfortunately, our requests to settle were denied, and therefore the matter was heard before Arbitrator Jacques Wood in mid-June 2019.
In September, we received the Arbitrator’s decision. The following are a few excerpts:
“…I find that the ONA has met its burden of proof of a contract violation. I reach this decision for the reasons set forth below based upon two primary conclusions: 1. The weekend work restriction violated the vacation scheduling provisions contained in Section 18.3; and, 2. The Medical Center did not establish that the weekend work vacation restriction was necessary ‘in order to ensure proper and adequate patient care’….The Medical Center does not have the right to establish the blanket prohibition on vacation selection on weekends to work without proof that such a prohibition is necessary to ensure ‘proper and adequate patient care.’ No such showing has been made in this case”.
ONA was in the right. The Medical Center was in the wrong.
Th Arbitrator also responded to an argument by the Medical Center that restrictions on the use of vacation on scheduled holidays should be “undistinguished” from their restriction on vacations over weekends. The Arbitrator disagreed and wrote, “…it is a far jump to go from no vacation by work rotation on six holidays to no vacation on 52 days (26 weekends) of the year whereby a nurse never could by contract right get two weeks in a row off on vacation… This holiday practice/contractual obligation flowing from Section 9.2 does not give the Medical Center the right to institute a no weekend work vacation restriction in the ED”.
As a result of this decision by the arbitrator, several ED RNs were granted their vacation requests that were previously denied. Moreover, the language in the new contract confirms for all RNs at ACMC that their requests for PTO will not be denied based on their weekend to work. RNs in the ED are thrilled that they actually have the option to take two weeks’ vacation at a time (like all other RNs at ACMC), and they can decide said which dates which works best for themselves and their families.
Congratulations ACMC Emergency Department RNs!
Your perseverance and willing to stand up for fairness and justice is an inspiration to all of us! #proudunionnurses #worththeinvestment