Saturday, February 23, 2013

Prime Time Vacations revisited

A month ago I had a meeting with management about "prime time" vacations.
I left the feeling good because we had come to an agreement. 
Or, so I thought.
I'm not sure how I could have misunderstood, but a any rate, we have no agreement and none is in sight.

The issue is when we can submit a request for summer vacations and Christmas time vacations.  The contract says submit in January for summer and July for winter. 
However, the negotiation notes clearly show that both sides intended for that to mean during January "or after January if available".
Not only does the dialogue at the negotiations show that the intent was that "prime time" vacation requests would be accepted after January..... but it just makes sense. 
Vacations are always subject to staffing ability and patient care needs, so if a person finds out in February that their California cousin is getting married in July, and if no one in their department is taking that week off.......then why wouldn't it be granted?

Anyway, we do not have agreement on this issue and it appears we cannot agree.
So, this week, we filed a grievance on it. It appears to be headed for arbitration, where an independent arbitrator will rule on it.
Please to not confuse this with our other arbitration case that is coming up soon.  It is also on vacations.  The issue there is that the hospital only allows you to request "partial week" vacations 4 weeks prior to the schedule period. 

In the case of "prime time" vacations, the hospital is saying it needs 6+ months to plan and in the case of "partial week" vacations, they are saying they don't want the request until 4 weeks prior.

I can't figure it out.  Maybe the arbitrator can.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Snowstorm cleanup

Snowstorms can leave a mess.  I'm not just talking about the massive piles of plowed snow everywhere you look.  There's other fallout as well.
The effects of this past weekend's snowstorm on the hospital are an example.
Let me say once again how proud I am to be coworker to the wonderful hospital workers who put their lives on hold, who spent days at the hospital, who worked long tiring shifts, all in the care of their patients.  Workers from every department pitched in to ensure that our mission, the care of the sick, carried on.
Many of you worked without knowing if and when you would be allowed to leave, and without knowing if you would be compensated for your hours. I must have received 30 emails telling your individual stories and have had countless other phone calls and conversations.  To a person, everyone understands and accepts their need to work under harsh conditions in an emergency.
They seek only that which is right. employees should be treated with respect and part of that is respecting their time and their rights under contract and law.
Our executive board and our field rep have been working with HR on these issues. 
I'll not go into detail right now but I will say the conversation continues.  All workers have some protection under labor law, the nurses have the extra protection of having a contract.  There can be differences of opinion on interpretation of the law and the contract, and the conversation may sort that out. 
There are mechanisms in place if agreement cannot be reached.
In the middle of the snowstorm, after emails and calls started coming in, I sent out an email to our members.  I told them to be safe and to do their job the best they could and I promised to do my best to sort the mess out latter.  In reality, there was no reason for me to tell you this.  You have all decided to work in health care because you care for people, you understand the difference you make every day in their lives. you would have done all this without my saying so.
I am not "proud of you", that would be condescending.
I am "proud to be one of you".
We will clean up this mess.  It might take some time, but it will get done.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Backus workers come through (again) in Nemo

I want to send out a big thank you and a job well done to the employees of Backus Hospital, and indeed to all the emergency medical crews, police, fire, public works employees and everyone who left family at home and worked through the storm so that others could be safe.
I am so proud to count you as my brothers and sisters. You perform these tasks every day, every hour, throughout the year and at times like these this daily role is only magnified.
Well done, well done indeed!

I worked on Friday and was able to get home with a little difficulty before the worst of the storm hit.  I was one of the lucky ones this time.  I had his weekend off, I was home in my own bed, I never lost power, I was indeed lucky.
All weekend long I received phone calls, emails, FB messages, and texts from coworkers stranded at the hospital.
Let me share parts of the them.

I was held over Saturday morning. We finally got places to sleep around 930 am. Throughout the morning, we listened to continuous pages overhead. At one point (around 11am when I gave up on sleep) we heard there would be sandwiches in the caf for staff members. By the time I reached the caf, they were out.

I worked from 11-11 yesterday 2/8/13 and was told I had to stay over at the hospital just in case they needed me the next day. I was released this morning at 830 am.

Just wanted to send you my email from my cot in same day surgery! I came in for 11 last night and at 7 this morning I was asked to stay until 11 and I willingly agreed. Then at 11 I was told to stay and they would find me a room. I am also told at 3 someone will 'find me' and let me know if I will have to stay until 11pm tonight. All in all it's been incredibly confusing and working what would be essentially a triple shift (my four hours off I've spent mostly digging my car out) seems completely impossible.

I worked Friday 7am-3:30pm(planned), punched out, slept in DI then came back on Friday 11pm due to a sick call- I did this willingly to help out my dept. A 7am-11am RN was unable to come in. I was agreeable to remain. Then the 11am-3pm nurse called out unable to get in. I stayed on duty so we could have 2 RNs on. I planned to remain until 3pm when shift change would take place. I got a call from my boss @ 1230 & was told to punch out- but told do not leave-go get rest because they might need me later for 2nd shift. Never mind the fact that I was also on schedule for next morn 7am. I'm tired, going to bed so I can work Sunday 7am-3pm- not even my week-end(switched for friend's vacation)

I was asked to come in early ahead of the storm to be available. I arrived around 3 pm on Friday and checked in with PCS. They told me to stand by and be ready, don't leave the area and have a cell phone on me. I worked 3rd shift as scheduled and was told to stay in the hospital, given an assigned bay in same day surgery to sleep. I was told to check in at noon to see if they were going to need me for 2nd shift. I slept for 3 hours, got up and checked in. Was told decisions were to be made for 2 pm. I waited around until 2:30pm when they finally told me I was to work 7p-7a. Given another bay in PACU to rest, I slept a total of 2 more hours. At 7pm, I reported to work. I was released in the morning after change of shift as I am scheduled to be back at 7p tonight.
i will have been up 24 hrs soon John because frankly I can't sleep on a stretcher.....with the intercom going off.....and the freezing temp in same day.....I'm all for doing my part but....
I worked Friday night my 7pm-7am shift . At 11pm last night they told night shift that we may have to stay until 8am, the morning they came and told us all to punch out but wait for a little meeting at 8:15 they told us we would all have to stay in the hospital to be available for 2nd shift today, and we would be given sleeping accommodations....At 2:05 they came and told us we were released.
I worked Thursday night and the nursing supervisor  told me to be at the hospital between 1pm and 4pm Friday as it was imperative that I be there for my scheduled night shift Fri 11-7 as travel would be impossible after 4.
 I arrived at the hospital about 1:30 pm Friday. I worked my scheduled night shift Fri night. Stayed in E-1 surgical. I was told to check in with the office when I woke up Sat. I checked in around noon and they told me I was to stay and that I was needed to come to work at 7pm and work through the night. I left the hospital just after 7:30 Sunday Am.
To a person, every employee I spoke with was more than willing to do there part.  Even in their extremely fatigued state they felt this way.
Issues came up and both myself and our vice president, Melissa Hunter, were on the phone with management trying to work them out as they happened.  There are still many issues to work out and we will, I assure you.
You are truly an amazing group of people and if for no other reason than that, you deserve to have these issued settled in a fair manner.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Rest easy Paul

Pepere Bessenaire, Paul, went to his eternal reward yesterday.  He is reunited with his Gloria, and all the other relatives who have passed before him.
He will be missed.
I will miss him.
He was a Koren War vet, a police officer in Danielson and Putnam, a yard worker at Electric Boat, and retired as an IBEW member at CL&P.  He was president of the Fraternal Order of Police, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, a Killingly town councilman.  He was father to 6, grandfather and great grandfather to so so many.
He was, and always will be, Pepere.
His first impression of me was that I was a hippie!  He must have enjoyed my baldness today.
He was tough, but he was loving.

He lost a 12 year battle to cancer.............but did he?
In the end, he couldn't rid his body of cancer, but in his passing, the cancer that he battled was defeated, deprived of oxygen, the cancer cells are gone.
If you ask me, Pepere got the best of his cancer in the end.  His spirit is now free, the cancer is no more.
There is no cancer in Heaven, but for Pepere, I'll bet there are New York System wieners, delivered fresh daily from Onieville Square, Providence.
I'll miss you Pepere, we all will.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Jeux de vie

I haven't been blogging all that much lately. 
I've been busy.
I know,
that's what everyone says when they don't get something done, but there is some truth to it.
I should blog more often, it's good for me, therapeutic, you know.  Sitting at the keyboard  and pounding away just helps me get my thoughts straight, helps me get a perspective on things, helps me set my bottled up emotions free.
 I know it's not great literary art but it is mine, it is me.
Sometime I just have to open the computer, place my hands on the keys, and see what comes out.

My father in law is very sick.  Please keep him and my wife and the family in your prayers.  We lost Memere to cancer about a year ago.  Then we lost our brother in law, Wayne, also to cancer.  Pepere has been fighting cancer for about 12 years.  He'll lose that battle soon, but it's not because he didn't fight.  Soon his fight will be over, soon he'll be at rest, soon he'll be reunited with his Gloria.

I understand the life process that brings us to a new life in Heaven.  I do not fear it for the person passing.  I struggle with the sadness of those left behind.
Coming from an Irish/Scott/English family I did not learn to show emotions the way my French Canadian marriage family does.  I envy them at times.
The French have a saying, "jeux de vie".  It means joy of life.  It means living life to the fullest, making the most of it, letting your emotions go.

My father in law will soon be free of his cancer laden body.  We will cry, but he will be free.

Jeux de vie Paul, jeux de vie.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Local 5149 this week

This month's Healthcare Council meeting was Tuesday night in Rocky Hill. Lots going on across the state. The recovery of our Sandy Hook members, their students, colleagues and the community tops the list. AFT CT has opened an office in Newtown to assist.
Also of importance is tomorrow's meeting in Hartford with the governor and legislators, open to all AFT members and two meetings on March 2, one in Waterford with southeastern CT legislators and one with northeastern legislators, probably in Willimantic.
These are great opportunities to express your opinions to elected officials. I will be unable to go tomorrow because of work but our political liaison, Carol Adams, and our VP, Melissa Hunter, are planning on attending. I will be at both the March 2nd meetings. Let me know if you'd like to car pool.
Yesterday was our monthly labor/management meeting.
First let me clarify something I reported in this blog 2 weeks ago about prime time vacation requests. I thought we had reached agreement but there seems to be some confusion on this.
Yesterday we clarified our position and management we get back to us at our next meeting, on February 11. I'll keep you updated.
I'd also like to explain a little about the filing of grievances.
I receive notice of every warning issued to bargaining unit RNs. I keep this information confidential. We have only 10 days to file a grievance. If we miss this time window we forfeit our right to defend members. Often we are not notified of a warning until the 10 day window is almost used up. This forces us to decide.
Ignore the warning or file to protect the member's rights.
I favor protecting the member's rights.
Once we have had time to speak to the member, we can always withdraw the grievance.
Remember, if called to a meeting that could possibly lead to discipline, ask for a union delegate to accompany you. If disciplined without a delegate being present, please inform a delegate or myself immediately.
We will have a food drive on March 9 at the Norwich Stop and Shop. This is in conjunction with the United Way and our security officer union. We had 2 of these last year and its a great way to contribute to our community by restocking local food pantries. More information soon. Please consider donating an hour of your busy lives for this cause.
Have a good week.