Saturday, December 29, 2012

Local 5149 update

In an effort to save money the hospital sometimes calls nurses prior to their shift and tells them not to come in, because the patient census is low. While I understand the need to be prudent with health care dollars, I believe that practice of routinely canceling shifts is contrary to retention of experienced nurses.
Sometimes, the hospital calls nurses and cancels for the first 4 hours of the shift, only to call them again in a few hours to cancel the rest of the day. Not only does this decrease the take home pay of the nurse, but it limits their ability to work a second job on that day, an option many have, or make other plans, because they are unsure if they are working a partial day or not.
Canceling shifts is the hospital's right under our contract.  Article 17 provides a process to be followed. 
The following order is to be followed: Nurses who would receive OT, then volunteers, followed by Traveler/Temporary and Per Diem nurses, then nurses above their budgeted hours, and finally nurses on a rotational basis per department, beginning with the least senior in the department.
We filed a grievance based on the fact that when they cancel for 4 hours and then cancel for an additional 4 hours, they have in effect, canceled the same person twice in a row, violating the terms of the contract. (rotational basis)
As a result of this grievance we have come to an understanding and agreement and,
effective 1/6/13, only full shifts will be canceled.
While this is not ideal, I hope it will decrease the number of canceled shifts, increase the use of "on call" with compensation, and allow those who are canceled to work another job for the day or make other plans, knowing they do not have to wait 4 hours to see if they need to report to work.  In short, I hope it leads to increased retention of good, experience nurses, which is good for us, management, and most importantly, our patients.

Another grievance, on single day vacations, will be going to arbitration in February.
Our argument is that although contract language says we must submit 4 weeks in advance for vacation, the intent was clear from negotiation notes that this was meant to be 4 weeks minimum
Management agreed on full week vacations, and agreed to a 6 month time frame, but they would not budge on single days, so we filed a grievance.
It was denied at steps 1, 2 and 3, so we sent it to arbitration, where an independent arbitrator will make the final decision.

Recently a nurse was placed on administrative leave for a week pending an investigation of an incident. I am happy to report that we represented her and she is back to work with full back pay.

I met with new State Senator Cathy Osten, AFT CT lobbyist Jen Berigan, Greg, and Harry Rodriguez, the president of L+M health care workers, at our office last Friday. It was a good opportunity to meet and discuss issues of importance to both Cathy and our members. She understands that the rights of workers and the success of small businesses are tied together.
Carol Adams, our political liaison, couldn't be there, but she has been active at the state level and will be our point person on all things political.

Donna Callicutt has been working hard with AFT in Washington to set everything up for our charter and our membership cards should be coming soon. This will allow members to take advantage on discounts that can be found on the state and national web sites.

 If you ever have any questions please do not hesitate to call me or Melissa, our numbers are on the website.
 Also if you are called "to the office", please ask for a delegate to come with you.  It is your right if questions are asked that could lead to discipline.

On a personal note I want to express my sympathy to the families and friends of the Webster NY firefighters who were killed responding to a fire.  Firefighters and all EMS workers put their lives on the line daily to protect us.  To have to face this kind of violence while on such a mission is unacceptable.  Violence like this is always unacceptable. 
Violence against EMS, school workers, health care workers, and others who dedicate themselves to the service of others must end.

2012 was a year that found us struggling for a first contract and achieving it.  It found us dealing with growing pains as a Local.
As we enter 2013, we will continue to look for common ground with management, looking for solutions that benefit all involved, management, workers, and patients. There are many changes coming to health care and we must stay up on them, and we must stay united in our belief that what benefits health care workers, benefits our patients.