Friday, February 28, 2014

Union Proposes Fix for Wage Inequities; Management Targets EIB

While the union continues to fight for safe staffing ratios, we have also taken on wage inequities created by St. Joe's hiring practices.  Our members are aware that some nurses make significantly less than a new hire with identical experience.  We have proposed a system that would bring nurses up if they are paid less than the hiring rate.  We have also proposed a minimum 4% increase for all nurses.  Additionally, we have seeking to significantly improve when overtime is paid, call pay, shift and weekend differentials, additional vacation and holidays among other economic proposals.

Management has respond with a 2% increase each year.  They continue to pursue a proposal that would require nurses to get a Bachelor's Degree or lose their job--without any additional funding for education!  St. Joe's is also proposing removing EIB from the contract, meaning they could make any changes they want, even eliminating it altogether.  It would immediately result in nurses having to use more PTO before receiving the EIB benefit. 

We have heard from our members how important preserving EIB is and we're pushing back.  We have heard from you how important safe staffing is and we're pushing back.  We need YOU to let management know how important EIB is to you!  We need YOU to let management know that you deserve safe staffing and decent wage!

Bargaining continues on Monday, March 3.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Bargaining Turns Tough Over Staffing

When the union surveyed our members last fall, the number one issue identified was staffing.  You told us that you are overworked, asked to do more and more with less and less, and that the quality of patient care suffers because of it.

The union and management met again on Thursday, February 13, for negotiations.  Although there has been progress up to this point, bargaining hit a roadblock over the issue of staffing.  The union has proposed staffing ratios intended to address the concerns you identified.  Management’s response: we are not understaffed.  We only need to be “educated” to see that everything is okay.

In an hour-long presentation, management tried to convince the union bargaining team there are already sufficient resources, we just don’t appreciate what we have.  All we need to do shuffle what is already available.  That’s like saying if only the deck chairs on the Titanic had been rearranged, it wouldn’t have sunk.

We know what you are experiencing is real.  Management already has the ability to redistribute resources to address the problem.  They haven’t done it.  We need enforceable contract language to fix the problem.

Studies directly link safe staffing to reduced rates of patient deaths and post-operative complications, including respiratory failure, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, shock, upper gastrointestinal bleeding, and shorter hospital lengths-of-stay.   And it’s cost-effective for the hospital.  Safe staffing ratios have produced cost savings for hospitals in reduced spending on temporary nurses and overtime costs, lower nurse turnover, improved patient outcomes, and shorter patient lengths of stay.   Preventing medical errors reduces loss of life and could reduce healthcare costs by as much as 30 percent.

Now is the time for you to let your manager know that your unit is understaffed, you are over worked, and your patients are suffering for it.    Make your voice heard!  You deserve a real solution to the problem.

The union is meeting with members to discuss the issue on Tuesday, February 18, from 6:30am to 6:30pm in the Madison Board Room.  The next bargaining session is scheduled for Thursday, February 20.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Staffing Ratios Proposed!

Negotiating sessions were held on January 27 and 30 and February 4 and 6. Both sides are still focusing on non-economic proposals (wages and benefit issues are typically held back until some of the easier issues are addressed).  The union continues to advance proposals to address workload and scheduling concerns raised by our members through the surveys and face-to-face meetings.  The union’s bargaining team proposed mandatory staffing ratios intended to promote patient safety and address our members’ feelings of being overworked.  Management says they are looking at it.

Although we have made progress toward a system that would distribute the burden of mandatory HE more fairly, there is a stumbling block, however.  Management has proposed having the option to place nurses on standby rather than HEing them.  This proposal is unacceptable and has been rejected, but management has not yet withdrawn it.

We also have continued to resist a proposal by management that would have us scheduling our vacations every six months instead of annually.  Our discussions with the membership have indicated no interest in this proposal.

Additionally, St. Joes continues to push taking away guaranteed rest breaks and counting preceptees in the staffing count. These proposals will lead to more overwork. We will fight back against any proposal that contributes to being overworked by St. Joes!

What about wages and benefits?
All the items mentioned above are important, but most of our members are anxious to know what is going to happen to salaries and benefits.  It is typical in negotiations to resolve as many “non-economic” issues as possible before addressing “economic” proposals.  Rest assured, economic proposals will be exchanged in the coming weeks.  The next bargaining session is on February 13.