On Monday December 20th, HPAE met with management for another bargaining session. There was significant progress made related to our proposal for a Weekend Program as well as with a Bonus Incentive Program which are both intended to address some of the staffing concerns that have been identified over the years. First, the Weekend Program would provide a set schedule for members that prefer to only work weekends while also ensuring that we have dedicated staff on weekends which are historically challenged with regards to staffing and callouts. Next, the Bonus Incentive Program would provide management with the ability to offer a monetary incentive for staff who volunteer to work overtime shifts on units that are critically understaffed. We were encouraged that they gave a serious counter to our proposals as it seemed as though they were listening to the pleas of our members.
Unfortunately, management continues to pursue concessions that would reduce overtime pay for our members which comes across as insulting and tone deaf to the members that dedicate themselves to this hospital year after year. We expressed that many of our members are upset that they are forced to work with agency nurses who make twice the money while being given a reduced patient assignment. In addition to having to take on a heavier patient assignment, we further expressed that our members are angry with management as they feel their hard work and dedication are unappreciated thus the proposed concessions lend even more credibility to this belief. HPAE understands the challenges that UH faces however our members should not be asked to take on even more of a sacrifice than they already share.
Later that day, UH met with the Joint Union Coalition to provide a heads up to the immediate challenges they are facing with regards to staffing. There has been a significant increase in staff on quarantine leave due to CoVid exposures in the recent weeks which is having a direct impact on the current staffing crisis that we face. Not to mention that the staffing challenges we normally face are being exacerbated by the high turnover rates, especially in the ER. In particular, Dr. Elnahal wanted to make sure that the Union Coalition understood that our members’ concerns are being heard as well as the Hospital is working with the State for resources that they hope may offer some relief. Dr. Elnahal also mentioned that if things continued to decline, the Hospital would be forced to reinstate plans used during the height of CoVid, such as the Labor Pool or limiting elective procedures. HPAE is monitoring the situation and will provide details as they develop.
HPAE is scheduled to return to negotiations on Wednesday, January 26th and remain hopeful that we will reach an agreement. On the other hand, we are working behind the scenes to review all options available in the event that we are unable to make progress. As of today, there are only 2 dates scheduled for negotiations in 2022 however more details will be provided as they develop. Although, there is a lot happening during this time, we ask that everyone enjoy the holidays and we will keep everyone posted if there are any changes. As always, If you would like more information on how you can participate or any other issue, please contact your local union rep or email email@example.com for assistance.
HPAE Negotiations Committee
Banita Herndon, Cynthia Baez-Lugo, Wendy Bobcombe, Wanda Caudle, Joselino Ulanday, Dara Skinner