On July 1, the Local 1991 team reopened bargaining with management emphasizing our top issue – the 5%. Members also hammered the safe staffing issue, steps and other issues.
Management opened by shooting a little piece of paper across the table – their inadequate first offer, which included a proposal to give employees one to three percent back as a one-time bonus, if JHS meets its financial indicators. This would be instead of COLA, merit increases or returning the 5%.
Meanwhile, top executives plan to award themselves bonuses of five to nine percent!
Our primary ask was to stop taking the 5%.
We pointed out that it’s hard to hear that Jackson doesn’t have money to return our concessions when management is crowing about the system’s $35 million surplus this year. Given the financial improvement JHS has enjoyed – a direct result of employee contributions – our members feel that any annual surplus should first be returned to employees.
President Martha Baker, RN, noted that the 5% was negotiated as a temporary concession to help the system out of a crisis, not to fund the surplus. She asked when management intended to end the 5%.
“I think in a dream world everyone wants that to go away,” snarled Bob Norton, management’s negotiator. “But in the real world it’s not going away.”
Eventually Norton acknowledged that management’s position is that whatever the county does on the 5%, Jackson will do.
So…mark July 16 in your calendar as our day to go down to the County Commission to ask them to end the 5% contribution. And make sure to call the commissioners now!
Our members then tackled the issue of steps, presenting evidence that the stagnation of steps is contributing to the system’s inability to retain staff.
Staffing raised its ugly head as well, despite management’s reluctance to hear about it. Trauma ICU nurse manager Carla Quigley, RN, talked about how severe understaffing among all the professions impacts nurses on the floor who are forced to take on other tasks rather than focus on core measures.
Dr. Jose Vildosola, M.D., talked about the critical need for urgent care services when cancer patients are still waiting three to six months for appointments.
Baker wrapped it all up by noting that Jackson has to value employees as true partners in the improvement of the whole system.
“The 5% is an issue of morale,” she said. “Frozen steps are creating a disparity and stagnation for those who hung in here during Jackson’s four worst years ever.”
We will let you know when the next bargaining session is scheduled.