Impact of UWHC Management Plans When Collective Bargaining Ends

This paper is a summary of key issues raised by the transition plan announced by the hospital. Our collective voice has had an impact. CLICK HERE to stand with other UW Health Employees to maintain an independent voice for workers at UWHC and to have a say in our working conditions.

The UWHC Transition Plan in response to ACT 10 was unveiled in parts by the hospital shortly before and within days after the December 4th rally and petition delivery to Donna Katen-Bahensky and the UWHC Authority Board. Even though the hospital receives no direct taxpayer support and hospital management states they did not ask to be included in Act 10, the transition plan represents a fundamental shift in the management’s approach. The hospital appears to be using Act 10 to reduce not only employee’s independent voice, but also the overall wages, hours and working conditions the unions have helped secure in a long term partnership.

Its not too late. UWHC Can Do Better.

Our unions have approached Ms. Katen-Bahensky and the UWHC Authority Board with a willingness to meet with them to discuss proposals that would maintain a high level of patient care and improve employee morale. The hospital, to date has chosen not to work with the unions in developing its plans. Despite Katen-Bahensky’s claim that ACT 10 prevents her from working with our unions we believe that our relationship can include the following elements:

  • The hospital could embrace the concept of elected employee representatives with whom it can meet and confer on hospital employment policies.
  • The hospital could now sit down with representatives from each bargaining unit and together work out personnel policies for the new employee handbook, including within it current contract provisions that have worked well for the parties.
  • The representatives could enforce the handbook provisions through an established grievance procedure and have input into any new policies or proposed changes to the handbook.

Economic Issues:

I. Supplementary Pay – On November 19th, after previously saying no adjustments would be made, the hospital announced that it was going to provide supplementary pay increases to our members to offset the increase cost in health and pension benefit contributions. On July 1, 2014 our members would receive a 4% pay BONUS and every 6 months for the next two years that BONUS would be lessened by 1% until July 1, 2016 when there would be no additional bonus.

Unfortunately, the employee share for pension contribution is increasing by nearly 7%. In addition, monthly health insurance premiums are nearly doubling.
Example: A typical nurse earning $34/hr and working 90% would see an annual increase of over $4,200 in pension contributions. Their monthly insurance premium for a family plan would increase to over $200, with total additional insurance premium increases of over $1,000 annually.

UWHC Could fully reimburse all employees

Over the last 3 years this non-profit health care organization has averaged an 8% profit margin earning $101,473,000 in 2012, and showing a return on equity of 13.10% last year. The UWHC’s growth in equity last year was 15.84% compared to a median of 7% for other Wisconsin hospitals. By any measure the UWHC is doing well financially. The state imposed employee increases in pension and health care costs result in direct savings to the hospital. UWHC is choosing not to fully offset those costs for all employees.

II. Wages for SEIU employees – 1% increase on July 1, 2014 & step increases thru 6/30/15. After July 1, 2016 the hospital plans to increase wages through Merit Pay based on a future comprehensive compensation study. Merit pay without an independent employee voice to monitor its fairness could further damage employee relations.

III. Tuition Reimbursement – After July 1, 2015 all SEIU employees who are first applying for tuition reimbursement regardless of seniority will receive their reimbursement in proportion to their FTE. Currently employees with 5 or more years of UWHC service and/or at least .8 FTE receive 100% reimbursement.
Example: Nurse Betty applies for tuition reimbursement in August 2015 for the fall semester. Betty is a .6 FTE with 6 years of UWHC service. Her tuition for the semester is $2500. Under the Transition Plan she will be reimbursed $1500. Under the SEIU contract she would have been reimbursed $2500.

IV. Overtime – Hours paid for sick leave will no longer be counted toward an employee’s 40 hour work week.

V. Other “known” and possible reduction in benefits and rights:

  1. PM differential starting time changed from 5pm to 6pm
  2. Call back pay reduced from 4 hours to 3 hours
  3. Sick days reduced from 13 to 12 days per year
  4. Seniority bonus capped after 7/1/17 and limited to employees who achieve 25 years seniority by 7/1/17.
  5. Differentials after 7/1/15 are subject to a future comprehensive compensation study.
  6. Low census guidelines may be changed to a mandatory low census policy.

CLICK HERE to stand with other UW Health Employees to maintain an independent voice for workers at UWHC and to have a say in our working conditions.

Seniority Benefits Reduced

I. Nurse residents who were in the program prior to 7/1/2006 lose their retroactive seniority as all seniority is now hospital seniority.

II. Best qualified will be used instead of ability and job requirements that are comparable, for filling job vacancies.

III. Vacation scheduling may take seniority into consideration.

Patient Care Issues

I. HR will develop general guidelines regarding scheduling.

Issues of concern:
1. Posting and adherence to schedules.
2. Scheduling Options
3. Restrictions on 12 hours shifts and shift rotation
4. Shift Preferences
5. Floating
6. Mandatory Overtime
7. Extra Shift Scheduling

II. Labor Management Meetings will be eliminated.

1. Staffing issues will no longer be brought to and discussed with management by your elected representatives.
2. Employees will no longer be able to send Notice of Risk to Patient Care forms to elected representatives so they can elicit responses from management.

Worker Rights

  1. Grievance Procedure: The “improved” grievance procedure for employees who wish to contest disciplines will allow you to have a non-paid co-worker attend formal grievance meetings. If you are suspended you might go before a panel review consisting of handpicked employees and managers.
  2. You will no longer have Weingarten Rights (the right to have a representative at an investigatory interview) and you will no longer be eligible to have your case heard before an impartial arbitrator.

To date, the UWHC Transition Plan is the result of a fatal flaw – the failure to involve employees elected by their peers to develop the plan. UWHC has the ability to remedy this flaw now and after the union contracts expire.

The 5000 Strong Member Action Team is working to change the process and the current plan.

CLICK HERE to stand with other UW Health Employees to maintain an independent voice for workers at UWHC and to have a say in our working conditions.

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