David Campbell Med Res

David Campbell, JD

Although not a nurse himself, David Campbell has spent decades advocating for WSNA-repre­sented nurses. His commit­ment to RNs is unwavering. Through his work, he has improved working condi­tions for nurses and addressed patient safety concerns in every possible legal venue: in court, at arbitra­tions, during contract negoti­a­tions and in the legisla­tive arena. The advances Campbell has made for WSNA and the nursing profes­sion will be felt for decades to come.

Campbell gradu­ated from the Univer­sity of Washington School of Law in 1983 and has been zealously advocating for labor unions and the workers they repre­sent ever since. He is principal partner at Schwerin Campbell Barnard Iglitzin & Lavitt, LLP, where his experi­ence includes major federal and state litiga­tion, collec­tive bargaining, proceed­ings before the National Labor Relations Board, organizing campaigns, strikes, contract admin­is­tra­tion and arbitra­tions. Campbell is also an adjunct professor at both the Univer­sity of Washington School of Law and the Seattle Univer­sity School of Law, where he teaches labor law and negotiation.

The work Campbell has done with WSNA to compel hospi­tals to give nurses rest and meal breaks has gone all the way to the State Supreme Court, with prece­dent-setting wins for nurses. The impact of this work cannot be overstated. This successful legal strategy, with Campbell as the primary facil­i­tator and lead counsel for WSNA, has had a deep and abiding impact on nurses’ rights to receive rest breaks and get compen­sa­tion for breaks that are denied.

Rest and meal breaks are essen­tial to reduce fatigue on the job and ensure that nurses can safely and consis­tently provide the highest quality care for their patients.

It started in 2007 with the lawsuit WSNA filed against Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane on behalf of the 1,600 nurses WSNA repre­sented there, arguing that nurses deserved pay for the thousands of rest breaks they had been denied. WSNA v. Sacred Heart Medical Center, decided by the State Supreme Court in 2012, estab­lished the right to overtime pay for missed rest breaks and expanded the right to rest breaks for nurses. This ground­breaking decision created a finan­cial penalty for hospi­tals’ failure to provide breaks and initi­ated a cascade of legal wins around the state.

In 2010, WSNA filed four additional lawsuits, on similar grounds, against Good Samar­itan Hospital, Tacoma General Hospital, Evergreen Hospital Medical Center and Holy Family Hospital in Spokane.

In 2011, WSNA reached a signif­i­cant settle­ment agree­ment with Evergreen Hospital resulting in improved timekeeping and record­keeping require­ments, appro­priate pay for missed breaks and entitle­ment to full, uninter­rupted breaks.

In 2013, WSNA reached a major settle­ment agree­ment requiring that Multi­Care, owner of Tacoma General and Good Samar­itan, adopt mecha­nisms, policies or practices to assure nurses are completely relieved of patient care duties during rest breaks.

In 2015, in an arbitra­tion case enforcing its settle­ment agree­ment with Tacoma General, WSNA won a landmark award compelling Multi­Care to abandon its break buddy” system, which continued to leave nurses on call during breaks and doubled patient care loads, often beyond safe limits, for nurse buddies” providing coverage. WSNA is currently defending the arbitra­tion award in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In 2016, WSNA reached a settle­ment with Franciscan Health-St. Joseph Medical Center in a lawsuit brought the year before on behalf of 1,200 nurses for denial of rest breaks, meal breaks and overtime pay. The settle­ment agree­ment provided $5 million in back pay to nurses for missed breaks and put an end to inter­mit­tent breaks at St. Joseph in Tacoma through commit­ments to imple­ment block rest breaks across the hospital and to create 26 FTE new, dedicated break-relief nurses.

The cascade of successes continues. This year, home health and hospice nurses at Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center were awarded nearly $2.9 million in back pay for the signif­i­cant number of hours they had been forced to work off the clock.

Taken together, Campbell’s legal efforts on behalf of WSNA have set new standards on rest and meal breaks for nurses. His novel utiliza­tion of the Minimum Wage Act to compel overtime pay for nurses who missed breaks set a prece­dent that other attor­neys have success­fully utilized to win stronger rest break policies and compen­sa­tion for missed rest breaks across the state.

In the legisla­tive arena, Campbell has acted as counsel and advisor on many bills including nurse staffing laws. He has worked with WSNA’s legisla­tive staff to lobby the Washington State Depart­ment of Labor & Indus­tries regarding guidance on rest breaks and manda­tory overtime.

Campbell has been a force at the bargaining table as well, negoti­ating on behalf of WSNA to win huge contrac­tual gains for nurses. From securing wage increases to improving staffing language and resisting employer attempts at takeaways, Campbell has fought tirelessly to achieve major contrac­tual victo­ries that have improved working condi­tions for nurses. Among his accom­plish­ments, Campbell was lead negotiator in the late 2016 contract victory at Multi­Care Tacoma General Hospital that, for the first time in Washington state, estab­lished unit-specific nurse-to-patient ratios in a collec­tive bargaining agreement.

The contrac­tual, legisla­tive and litiga­tion-based wins Campbell has achieved have set high standards for working condi­tions, nurses’ rights and patient care that WSNA-repre­sented nurses will enjoy for decades to come. Whether arbitrating to enforce nurses’ contrac­tual rights or taking legal battles all the way to the State Supreme Court, Campbell has dedicated his career to champi­oning WSNA’s members and improving working condi­tions and patient safety for nurses throughout the state.