As the likelihood of a surge of COVID-19 patients at Sparrow Hospital becomes more and more imminent, your elected PECSH-MNA bargaining team continues to meet with management to reach a negotiated agreement that will better protect PECSH Caregivers from the effects of this pandemic.
We have made significant progress toward language that protects medically vulnerable Caregivers, and we anticipate seeing improvements in access to emergency PTO in the near future. Our top priority in these negotiations is protecting the safety of frontline Caregivers.
Specifically, we believe that it is essential to protect Caregivers who are over sixty-five (65) years of age, have a confirmed pregnancy by a physician of twelve (12) weeks or more, are breastfeeding, are immunocompromised, have a confirmed respiratory illness, or have a confirmed cardiovascular illness. At our urging, we have already seen Sparrow implement some of these protections. We are optimistic that we will see this more expansive list of protected populations in our final agreement.
As part of our negotiations, we have explained the importance of extending emergency PTO to Caregivers who are screened out for symptoms and unable to work, but do not have a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. Sparrow management agrees that this is reasonable, and we expect to see this expanded access in place soon.
In addition to working to expand access to emergency PTO, we have introduced language to better manage the issues of Administrative Absences and the potential layoffs so many Caregivers are currently facing. We understand that COVID-19 is presenting many of our members with enormous financial hardships, and we are working with HR on a daily basis outside of these negotiations to minimize the impact of changed hospital operations as much as possible.
In discussions to date, Sparrow has not expressed a willingness to expand eligibility for emergency PTO to caregivers who are unable to work due to family care obligations or due to low census. At this point, we don’t anticipate this is likely to change, but we want to make sure you are aware that there is financial assistance available from the state unemployment insurance agency, even if you are still actively employed at Sparrow.
If you are displaced or have had your hours significantly reduced you may be eligible to collect underemployment benefits from the State of Michigan. In this situation, you will remain an active employee of Sparrow Hospital, and will continue to receive your regular employer-provided health insurance benefits. If the hours you work aren't enough to cover the cost of your benefits, you will receive a bill for the balance. Maintaining access to employer provided benefits is a high priority for PECSH at all times, and particularly so during a pandemic. We are working with HR to do everything possible to avoid layoffs for this reason.
Apply for benefits here.
We will keep you updated as we learn more.