Local 5004 Open Letter to Membership - Health Professionals & Allied Employees

Local 5004 Open Letter to Membership

Yes, we are in an unprecedented time. Yes, it appears that hospital management, and government agencies are using that term as an umbrella for not protecting frontline caregivers, which filters down to the community which we serve.

But the impact is mostly felt by nurses. Nurses of our Local. We, as leaders, have firsthand knowledge of what everyone is dealing with because we are working alongside of you. Plus, we appreciate all the communication via text, emails, and face book posts. Keep them coming.

This union, specifically this local, has always predicated a course of action based on what is best for everyone and ensuring that the contract is upheld – granted this sometimes is not popular with some members. There is some misconception that during this crisis, union leadership has taken to protecting one group of nurses over other nurses. Also, that some nurses were offered extra monies for overtime. Both these assumptions are simply not true.

From March 6, through March 16th, HPAE leadership requested to meet with EHMC. A brief meeting occurred on the 16th of March wherein we wanted to discuss the hospital’s plan and try to mitigate the impact it would have on the nursing staff. The hospital really did not have a plan. The Union stressed that the hospital should ask for volunteers to change status, shift, and add weekend work. As to forcibly inflict these changes on nurses would just add to the overall stress that already exists due to this crisis, not to mention violate the contract. The hospital did not ask for volunteers. The following is a summary of what the hospital attempted, and in some instances implemented.

  • hospital offers a 4-hour critical care course to procedural area nurses
  • hospital telling nurses they will float despite seniority
  • nurses out on leaves are being told to stay home, with no pay, or use vacation time, or be added to a float pool
  • hospital offers a 6-hour medical-surgical course to procedural area nurses
  • nurses from procedure areas are redeployed and hospital expects them to take full assignments in either ICU and/or medical-surgical units.
  • nurses in procedural areas, schedules are changed on April 7th; some nurses are redeployed to nights, all had their weekend work increased
  • nurses forced to work with unsafe patient ratios

Throughout this process HPAE has told the hospital of their contract violations. HPAE enforced the contract and supported the redeployed nurses from procedure areas as to whether they possessed the competencies to care for ICU and/or medical-surgical patients. Jeopardizing patients and other nurses would be the impact of having procedural nurses taking an assignment and functioning independently in these areas. Also, maintaining J-1 Core Staffing was paramount in our discussions with the hospital. HPAE filed a complaint with the Department of Health concerning the staffing in the ICU’s; the safety issues, not only proper and available PPE but the conditions on 2K ‘ICU’. HPAE has filed a Class Action Grievance concerning all violations of the contract. Also, we will be filing Unfair Labor Practice charges against the hospital.

On April 3rd, a zoom conference call was held with John O’Dea, Kathy Kaminski, Pat Wilson, Alice Barden, Michele McLaughlin and HPAE staff rep Corrado Cotumaccio. We discussed several issues, among them was staffing, PPE, non-nursing functions, and work schedules. The hospital administrators had really no answers and said they would get back to us.

On Friday, April 3rd at 9:01PM, the hospital sent a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). Several MOA’s have been sent by the hospital and counterproposal MOA’s by HPAE. The summary content of the proposals and counterproposals can be found on face book and were sent out in email to members on April 11th.

On April 13th, the hospital sent another proposal which is posted on face book and emailed to the members on April 15th. The Union has rejected that proposal.

On Friday, April 17th, the hospital advised the union of the following, “…Englewood is implementing its last offer. We are willing to continue to negotiate with the Union in good faith.”

To refresh your memory the hospital’s last proposal is summarized below:

  • offered to full-time and part-time staff RN’s who work their regularly scheduled weekly shifts (excluding benefit time)
  • a PT-1 employee who works beyond their scheduled 24 hours, the bonus will start at the completion of the  25th hour
  • a FT employee who works beyond their scheduled hours (bonus will start at the completion of the 37 or 49th hour)
  • COVID-19 Surge bonus pay is $10/hour
  • bonus will be in the pay period following the pay period in which the eligible hours were worked
  • payment is made with approval of the department manager and provided the team member has accurately floated their eligible hours to Department 923-COVD-19 Response
  • standard weekly overtime rules will apply to bonus payments; i.e. overtime worked over 40 hours in a week (excluding benefit time). The $10.00/hour bonus calculates to an OT rate of $15.00/hour
  • full-time and /or part-time staff nurse will receive $10/hour COVID on-call bonus for every hour they are on-call above the maximum

The above is the summary of the hospital’s proposed COVID-19 Surge bonus pay which represents their expression of respect and appreciation for the unsafe staffing and sacrifices that nurses are making to their own health and lives and that of their family for continuing to work in these horrid and unsafe conditions.

HPAE has rejected this offer and informed hospital administration that we are willing to continue to negotiate. If you are offended by the hospital’s proposal, please tell John O’Dea (John.O’Dea@ehmchealth.org), Kathy Kaminski (kathy.kaminsky@ehmchealth.org) and Warren Geller what you think of their offer. Please sign the petition.

This is a time, more than ever, to come together, to speak with one voice, to show true strength and display a community of spirit. We are all connected.

Please continue to contact your union leaders with your issues/concerns.

HPAE Local 5004 Executive Board

Alice Barden, President – 973-851-9487

Michele McLaughlin, Vice President – 201-315-1992

Betsy Ball, Secretary/Treasurer – 201-421-6936

Cathi Goldfischer, Health & Safety Chair – 201-803-5323

Elaine VanBuren- Rizzo, Professional Development Chair – 845-558-7061

Jane DiMasso, Co-Chair Communicators – 394-1419

Lauren Symons, Co-Chair Communicators – 201-421-6201

Corrado Cotumaccio, HPAE Staff Rep -413-320-3093