EMPLOYER DISCLAIMS STAFFING FINES IN CONTRACT BEFORE START OF THIS WEEK’S NEGOTIATIONS
Late last week, Human Resources and our Chief Nursing Officer, Amy Brown, called a meeting with two representatives of PECSH-MNA and informed them that the staffing of the hospital was no longer in the control of Hospital Administration and that they will no longer be paying any staffing fines as a result. In the meeting, Hospital Administration vaguely cited language in our collective bargaining agreement about not paying staffing fines for staffing shortages which are beyond the employer’s control. The staffing subcommittee has historically made these determinations on a case-by-case basis, but Administration has now taken the position that they will not pay staffing fines on any unit, for any shifts, regardless of the specific situation, or the actual number of staff on that unit.
As many of us may remember, the Hospital insisted at this time last year, as part of an extension agreement, that the longevity bonus be suspended for existing caregivers and gave its nurses and healthcare professionals a 1% general wage raise. Since the pandemic began, PECSH-MNA has proposed retention bonuses for staff at least four times. In the years before, PECSH-MNA has proposed expanded supplemental and float pools to deal with chronic staffing shortages. Now, without reconsidering any of these refusals, Administration has taken the position it can do nothing more to safely staff our hospital.
The job of a nurse or healthcare professional is to care for their patient. The job of Hospital Administration is to staff and run a hospital. Just as a nurse can’t say they are no longer responsible for their patient’s care; Hospital Administration cannot say they are no longer responsible for our Hospital’s staffing. Our patients and our community depend on a safely staffed hospital. Sparrow executives’ declaration seems like little more than abdication of leadership and a needless and intentional provocation of their own nurses and healthcare professionals at the start of negotiations.
PECSH-MNA is examining all legal recourses, but we need to make it clear to Administration that we will not tolerate this. Please sign this petition to make your voice heard. Watch your emails for our next steps. Our patients deserve a safely staffed hospital and apparently it is up to us alone to ensure it.
UPDATE ON AUGUST 24 BARGAINING SESSION
On August 24, 2021, we met with the Employer again for negotiations on non-economic matters. We received proposals from the Employer which included:
ARTICLE 16 – ATTENDANCE & PUNCTUALITY
The employer came with a proposal completely rewriting our absence and punctuality language and process. They proposed moving it from two separate discipline tracks to one where our absences and tardies would add up together, building towards discipline faster, once again proving that they are aiming to be more punitive.
They also proposed that if we call-in for a weekend shift that it would account for 2 occurrences and that we would have to make up that shift within same scheduling period. If we don’t make it up in the same scheduling period, they proposed having it count for two additional occurrences. Management’s proposed changes also made it much more difficult to obtain your Attendance Bonus.
Sparrow executives also proposed penalizing our members for absences in the following categories:
An absence without sufficient PTO,
Holiday call-ins and the shifts surrounding the holiday,
Failing to be present in your workstation at the start of shift, and,
Clocking out or leaving early without advanced approval.
ARTICLE 26 – HEALTH & SAFETY
The Employer proposed making the flu vaccine required for all PECSH-MNA members. PECSH-MNA members already have over 90% compliance with current employer expectations and the TJC does not require the flu vaccine for accreditation.
After repeatedly asking when the contractually required Workplace Violence Committee meets and being told it was on pause due to COVID, management informed us that this committee has now been moved to the system-wide level and is “managers only.” It is apparent that the Employer continues to pare down contractual committees and hinder involvement by frontline caregivers.
It continues to be clear that retention of our members is of less importance to our Employer than solidifying their unilateral control.