Staffing issues, contracting out bargaining unit work, and a duty to bargain

Each of these topics is the subject of recent  court action.In MultiCare Health Systems v. Washington State Nurses Association, the Ninth Circuit reversed a District Court order vacating certain remedies ordered in an award of Arbitrator Douglas P. Hammond. The Union's grievance claimed that Multicare violated the terms of a settlement agreement requiring MultiCare to provide employees with  a 15 minute break periods for every four hours worked. Arbitrator Hammond sustained the grievance and ordered MultiCare to cease using a "buddy system" as a means of providing breaks and to "staff, schedule and assign a nurse to serve as a reserve or float nurse with the precise assignment of relieving other scheduled nurses for their authorized breaks."MultiCare sought to vacate the award, asserting that the arbitrator exceeded his authority and that the issue of increased staffing had been raised by the Union during negotiations…

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