Jackson Budget Plan: Continued Employee Sacrifice


The Public Health Trust voted to approve Jackson’s $1.6 billion budget on Monday, following a lively debate in which SEIU members took management to task for not addressing short staffing and wage stagnation. (See the meeting here, skip to the 1:50.00 mark)

The budget does not include the concessions due to come back to members on Sept. 30 of this year.

President Martha Baker, RN, argued passionately that management should honor the contract it signed with members three years ago, or risk destroying the trust it has been slowly building with its employees.

“We signed this contract and we did all the giving, and on the last day the concessions were supposed to come back,” she said. “You can’t ignore that contract.”

 Management touted its budget as being the fourth in a row to deliver a surplus, estimated to be $12 million next year.

Yet, it claimed Jackson can’t afford to stop asking employees to sacrifice raises and other benefits.

 In addition to President Baker, Dr. Dave Woolsey, Carol Robley, ARNP, Julia Ruiz, RN, and enrollment specialist Hiram Ruberte testified about how management’s decisions are affecting patient care and employee satisfaction.

Carol Robley, ARNP, told the board that non-critical patients in the ER can wait eight to ten hours before being seen because of inadequate staffing. And Jackson is losing money in per diems every day because there are not enough staff in the med-surge, telemetry or ICU units to admit patients from the ER.

Dr. Dave Woolsey talked about the high staff burnout that has nurses and doctors in the ER dropping like flies, lured to other hospitals by better pay and less stress.

 Julia Ruiz, RN, said that as a young, Jackson-trained nurse, she’s being actively recruited by local hospitals every week.

“I would love to stay and continue to develop my skills, but you’re making it hard for me to stay,” she said. “No pay increases? Now I’m not a banker, or an accountant or a CFO — but I do know the value of a dollar.”

Enrollment specialist Hiram Ruberte noted that there are many Jackson employees making $40,000 or less who have sacrificed because they believe in the public hospital’s mission. But they also believed that the sacrifice would end when we all agreed to it.

 “It’s the same thing as if you decide not to pay your mortgage when you know you have a contract with a bank,” he said. “You can’t do that. You lose credibility.”

Several PHT board members expressed concern about the attrition rates and the exorbitant amounts being spent on overtime and agencies rather than proper staffing.

 “It appears to me the attrition we’re having is spectacular,” said board member Ralph Patino. “We have to find a way to keep them here.”

Board member Irene Lipof noted that if management staffed properly, it could reduce overtime/agency costs and have money left over to address some of the concessions.

 “We’re burning people out and that isn’t the way you keep your staff,” she said.

The budget will go to the Miami-Dade Commission for final approval in September.

While the budget does represent management’s vision of operations, the truth is that wages and benefits will be set at the bargaining table. It’s important that all members stand together in this important fight!

SEIU Local 1991 will resume bargaining with management for the 2014-2017 contract on July 30 and 31. Negotiations will be held in Jackson Towers, Room 725/718 at 2 p.m.

All members are encouraged to stop by to support the bargaining team as it fights management’s unacceptable proposal.

Let’s turn up the heat!