Sunday, October 28, 2012

Shared Rewards?

Recently, Backus Hospital announced it's 2012 "Shared Rewards Program" and delegates have been getting questions.  Let me try to answer those questions.
The program consists of three parts; a discretionary matching contribution to the 402(b) plan, a pay for performance wage increase, and an end of the year bonus.

It is true that during negotiations we were offered the opportunity to continue participating in this program.  However, it is also true that this was an all or nothing offer, we could not, for instance, accept the year end bonus and negotiate for wage increases, insurance rates or other benefits.  It was a take what we are willing to give you or take nothing offer.

So, what's the bottom line, what can you expect.

You will not get a year end bonus. 
You will get 3% of earnings into your 403 (b).
You will get a 2.25% wage increase on June 1. 

Now, a little more explanation.

In addition to the 3% contribution to the 403(b), if you had been in the old pension fund and had at least 10 years service on 12/31/09 and your age and years service equals 55 or more, you will get an additional 3%  (a total of 6%).
Without this, 55+ people would be negatively impacted.

Your wage increase in June could be slightly higher if you are at the bottom of the pay range scale on page 33 of our contract because the range narrows each year. There are also a few individuals who will get no increase. They were credited with service as LPNs and Surgical Techs and were hired at a higher rate of pay because of this, and fall outside the range. These individuals know who they are and we owe them a promise to address this inequity in our next contract.

It is also important to remember that your wage increase is no longer tied to your evaluation.

Same history might be helpful.

At one time wages were tied to evaluations.  It became clear that some people and some departments were making much more than other people or departments.  I think this was a result of human nature and the fact that any evaluation of a nurse is subjective by nature.
So, the hospital changed to a set % wage increase each year that depended on how the hospital did financially and what the economy demanded to retain staff.

Then Wellspring consulting was hired.
Longevity and certification bonuses became history, replaced with a year end bonus set by the a handful of men who make up the board of trustees.  That year end bonus has been about 10% of the previous bonuses.
Shift and weekend differentials decreased.
Wages were returned to a subjective evaluation form, the total amount set by the board and divided among the employees.
Insurance rates, co pays, and deductibles climbed, income plunged, and experienced nurses left the hospital.  At the same time profits soared and those earning the most earned even more.

During negotiations, when we were offered the all or nothing opportunity to continue to participate in shared rewards, we asked if they could tie the "shared" part into something concrete.  In other words, each year the board decides how much it can "share" with the employees.  We asked, could that be tied to profit margin? or some other hard number?  The answer was no.

As nurses, we have economic responsibilities to our families and we have ethical responsibilities to our community to try to retain experienced colleagues..

If at the end of our contract, our members decide they would like to return to "shared rewards", we could negotiate for that.  I'm pretty sure the administration would be interested.

Depending on the board's generosity is one way to go, standing together is the other.

I'm reminded of a scene from Oliver Twist.  Oliver is hungry and asking for more food. 
"Please sir, I want some more."