Sparks flew at the 2nd bargaining session on July 30, as chief negotiator Martha Baker, RN, and our attorney Mark Richard laid into management’s proposals that call for $85 million in employee concessions and the elimination of important sustainability language such as reducing ER wait times.
“You have been reporting to the public that you turned this place around, you have been accepting awards from the Chamber of Commerce…and now you tell us you can’t fulfill the current contract and you need more concessions in the next contract?” asked Mark Richard.
Management’s outside consultant who served as their chief negotiator, Luke Savage, objected to the notion that concessions aren’t necessary. “It would be impossible to recover from turning steps back on,” he claimed.
Blasting management for stretching employees to the brink, Martha Baker, RN, implored management to work with our union to find efficiencies, work on innovative healthcare plans, and develop better staffing models instead of fighting with us.
“We want to spend our time and energy on accomplishing things that will make Jackson sustainable, not battling with you over how much more money you are going to take from our pockets,” she said. “We’re the best partner you could ask for, but you have to hold up your end of the bargain.”
Management’s original proposal, passed across the table at the last session, not only calls for salary and benefits concessions, but also strikes the entire Public Protection Plan language which ensures Jackson will work on essential operational issues such as reducing ER wait times, opening a primary care clinic on campus, keeping the Trauma Center open and more.
“Who has the guts to do that? said Mark Richard. “Instead of coming to us with a surgical knife, you are coming at us with a sledge hammer of concessions.”
The only bright note of the negotiations came when management passed us a proposal to offer a Jackson First health insurance option that would greatly reduce dependent coverage. It would also provide for no co-pays or deductibles at Jackson facilities. This is an option that our union has been jointly developing with management in an effort incentivize employees to use Jackson for their healthcare and to lower dependent coverage costs. We would need assurances this plan would provide an employee fast track and an employee only clinic. More discussion on health insurance will likely happen at the next bargaining session.
At the end of the meeting, Management passed across the table a slightly better salary proposal that will be evaluated by our bargaining team. At first glance it appeared that this was another unacceptable proposal that would result in many employees going another three years without a raise.
After bargaining concluded, the management team cancelled the bargaining session scheduled for July 31, saying they needed time to reconsider their proposals.
Our team has not yet offered a counter proposal on salaries. We will be holding membership meetings next week to review survey results with our members and discuss your priorities and bargaining goals.
It is important to stay united and committed.