Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Nominations Open 
April 7 – April 21, 2015
for SHARE Union Representatives 
& Executive Board Members

[This notice was also mailed to SHARE members' homes.]

On Wednesday May 20, 2015 there will be an election for SHARE Union Representatives and Executive Board members.  The back of this page includes a list of positions open for nomination.

To run for Union Rep or Executive Board Member
1.      You must have been a dues paying SHARE member for at least the last 6 months. 
2.      You must be nominated in writing by a SHARE member (either a co-worker or yourself).
3.      Current SHARE Reps who wish to continue to be Reps need to be nominated again this year

To nominate someone for Union Rep or Executive Board Member
1.      Please send nominations by email to share.elections@theshareunion.org; or by fax to (508) 929-4040; or by U.S. mail to SHARE, 50 Lake Ave, Worcester, MA 01604. However you send the nomination, it is a good idea to call to confirm that it arrived. The phone number at the SHARE office is (508) 929-4020.
2.      Nominations should include:
·         the name, department and phone number of the person being nominated;
·         the position for which they are being nominated; and
·         the name and phone number of the person submitting the nomination.
3.      Nominations must arrive at the SHARE office by 5:00pm on Tuesday, April 21, 2015.  We cannot accept late nominations.
4.      Nominees will be offered the opportunity to decline the nomination. Anyone who does not decline is then a candidate.

Descriptions of the Different Roles
Below are brief descriptions of the roles of Union Reps and Executive Board Members. If you want to talk about what it would be like to be a SHARE Rep or to be on the Executive Board, or if you have other questions, please call the SHARE office at 508-929-4020, or talk to someone you know who is involved with SHARE.

SHARE Union Representatives
There is a Union Rep for approximately every 50 SHARE members.  A union rep is a contact person for their area. Union Reps get training from SHARE to move information between co-workers and union leadership.  They can also get training in helping co-workers solve problems (for example, with discipline or work schedules) if they want to. They are elected for 1-year terms.

SHARE Executive Board Members
There are 13 positions on the SHARE Executive Board: A Co-President from University-connected locations and a Co-President from Memorial-connected locations; a Secretary and a Treasurer elected at large (by all SHARE members); and 9 others who are elected by location and region (based on the kind of department they are in). They are elected for 2-year terms. Executive Board members have responsibility for the whole union, and in particular for their region (several hundred people). They make decisions about the direction of our union and participate in contract negotiations.

Positions Open for Nomination

Rep and Executive Board positions are divided by location and by region. Your region is based on the kind of department you are in, not what kind of job you do. For example, a secretary in a technical department is in the Technical region, and an LPN in a clinic is in the Ambulatory region. If you need help figuring out what region you are in, or have other questions, please call the SHARE office at 508-929-4020.

SHARE Union Representative Positions:


On the Memorial Campus

Mem Nursing Floors & ED - 4 Reps
Mem Technical & Diagnostic - 3 Reps
(includes Sleep Center and Shrews Rad)
Mem Ambulatory Clinics - 2 Reps
(includes 67 Belmont & Shrews Fam Med)
Mem Clerical & Other - 1 Rep
On the University Campus

Univ Nursing Floors & ED - 8 Reps
Univ Technical & Diagnostic - 6 Reps
(includes Milford Radiology)
Univ Ambulatory Clinics - 6 Reps
(includes So. County Pediatrics)
Univ Clerical & Other - 4 Reps
(includes 306 Belmont St.)
Other Memorial-affiliated locations

Hahnemann - 4 Reps 
(includes Hahn Internal Med, Chadwick St.)
Barre - 1 Rep

Other University-affiliated locations

Central Business Office - 5 Reps
Worcester Business Center - 4 Reps
Tri River - 1 Rep
Queen St. - 1 Rep
Biotech 3 - 1 Rep
                
SHARE Executive Board Member Positions:

The SHARE Executive Board members are usually elected for 2-year terms, with five members elected in odd-numbered years (e.g. 2015) and the four officers plus four other members elected in even-numbered years (see below). The election committee has decided to open nominations for all Executive Board positions this year because a number of positions are currently vacant. Those positions that are usually elected in even-numbered years will serve a 1-year interim term and be up for re-election in 2016.

Positions elected in odd-numbered years will serve a full 2-year term


Central Business Office (Region A)
Mem Locations – Nursing Floors & ED (Region B)
Mem Locations – Ambulatory Clinics (Region D)
Univ Locations – Technical & Diagnostic (Region C)
Univ Locations – Clerical & Other (Region E)

Positions usually elected in even-numbered years will serve an interim 1-year term

Co-President University locations
Co-President Memorial locations
Secretary
Treasurer
Mem Locations – Technical & Diagnostic (Region C)
Mem Locations – Clerical & Other (Region E)
Univ Locations – Nursing Floors & ED (Region B)
Univ Locations – Ambulatory Clinics (Region D)



Monday, April 13, 2015

SHARE Benefits Survey Results

A big thank you to the 700+ SHARE members who participated in the 2014 SHARE Benefits Survey -- the results are now available for viewing online.

SHARE and the UMass Memorial HR Benefits department designed the survey together, because a union-management Health Insurance Committee was talking about possible changes to SHARE members' benefits in the future. We wanted to document clearly what SHARE members care about.

Here are some interesting results:
  • It is no surprise that benefits are a very important part of the employment package for most SHARE members -- 89% of SHARE members who took the survey agree that benefits are an important reason that they continue to work here.
  • Which benefits SHARE members value most are probably not a surprise either: Medical insurance -- 96% said Very Important, Vacation/earned time -- 87% said Very Important, and Dental insurance -- 86% said Very Important.
  • When we asked which new benefits people might be interested in, the most popular answer was help with retiree health benefits.
  • More SHARE members said that they would rather have a predictable amount of money come out of their paycheck than pay less towards their health insurance premium but take the chance of unpredictable out-of-pocket expenses. We asked these questions because HR Benefits was exploring the idea of offering a high deductible health plan, in addition to the HMO plans. 
  • When asked which wellness programs people would participate in, if the programs were offered, 43% said a weight loss program, 43% said exercising in a gym, and 38% said stress reduction or meditation.
  • 46% of the SHARE members who responded said that they suffer from some kind of chronic condition (like diabetes, high blood pressure, or depression).
We're not sure what's next for the union-management Health Insurance Committee. Donna Hilliard was leading those discussion for HR, and she has now left UMass Memorial. The survey results will be very useful whenever and how ever we start talking with management about benefits again.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

HIPAA Violations to Be Monitored Electronically

UMass Memorial's new system for enforcing patient privacy went into effect on April 10th. The new software system, called FairWarning, will police patient files, looking for signs of suspicious access. If the system catches an employee going into a patient file without a legitimate work reason, it will be flagged. Then managers will investigate. If it turns out that the employee didn't have documented permission or a work reason, they will be subject to discipline.

In accordance with federal guidelines, the hospital has long monitored patient records, including randomized audits. Earlier in the year, we included a blog post here about HIPAA, and some things that SHARE members should know. No policies or penalties have changed since then, only the monitoring system.

Up until now, most of the investigatory meetings that SHARE Reps have gone to about possible violations have involved a patient complaining that someone was in their files. Either that, or files were monitored because they belonged to someone famous, or because co-workers were talking about private information that might have come from the file. The FairWarning system is intended to perform more thorough monitoring of all Electronic Health Records. Nothing suspicious has to trigger an investigation.

An email from UMass Memorial about the new software says that it will begin by focusing on employees who go into a file with their same last name or address. The system will likely be further designed to monitor in more ways as time goes on.

We value patient privacy. It is important to the patients who trust us with their medical care, including the many SHARE members who are also hospital patients. Please be careful you don't access a file of yourself, a family member, someone you know or anyone else unless you get proper permission to view the record, or you have a legitimate work reason to see the record.

For more information, including a link to an electronic access permission form, please see this article in News & Views.

Friday, March 13, 2015

College Scholarship Opportunity: Central Massachusetts AFL/CIO

The SHARE office recently received the following notice in the mail from Joe Carlson, the President of the Central Massachusetts AFL/CIO, about a really great scholarship opportunity for our members. The lottery for these scholarships will be open to any SHARE members, as well as children and grandchildren of our members, who will graduate from high school this year and attend college next year. The details are posted below. Please note that applications should NOT be sent to the SHARE office. If you would like a copy of the nomination form, please click here.

***

To: All Affiliated Locals of the Central Mass AFL/CIO,

We are pleased to announce that we will be awarding six $1,000.00 scholarships as well as a number of  $500 Platinum sponsored scholarships.

The scholarship recipients will be drawn by lottery at the May community services committee meeting and the winners will be announced at the Annual Scholarship Golf Tournament on Friday, June 5, 2015.

The scholarships will be presented at the Labor Day breakfast September 7 2015

To be eligible, the student must be a 2015 graduating high school senior and going on to college, and a child, grandchild, or member whose local is affiliated with the Central Ma. AFL/CIO. Union members must live or work in the jurisdiction of the Central Ma. AFL/CIO.

All names must be submitted by May 1, 2015 and returned to:


Paul Soucy
AFL/CIO Labor Community Services
Central Ma. AFL-CIO
400 Washington St
Auburn, Ma. 01501


Fraternally Yours,
Joseph P. Carlson, President
Central Massachusetts AFL/CIO

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Surviving the Storm

Click here for frequently asked questions about severe weather and the SHARE contract.

We heard some good stories and some bad stories about the storm last Tuesday. A few examples:

The Good
  • A patient critical department that figured out in advance the minimum number of staff needed to safely cover their assignments, got enough volunteers (with a little arm-twisting), and let everyone else stay home
  • A department with a role that does not affect direct patient care asking early on Monday who planned to stay home Tuesday
  • An employee without kids who lives close to the hospital taking a shift for an employee with kids who does not
  • Camaraderie between people who slept over so that they could be at work the next day
The Bad
  • An employee who worked a double shift on Tuesday who did not know when they would be released to go home
  • Employees working near each other who were treated differently – some sent home with pay and others having to use their own time
  • An employee in a patient critical department who came to work, but was pulled over by the police and given a warning for being on the road Tuesday
  • Employees who were told that their department would be closed Tuesday, who did not know that they could volunteer to work somewhere else so they wouldn’t have to use their time, and employees who could not get a clear answer on Monday about what they were supposed to do on Tuesday
There are many, many more stories. Congratulations to the departments that worked it out. And a big thank you to those who stayed over, came in, and worked extra to take care of the patients who didn’t have a choice about being in the hospital!

Most of the bad stories we heard involved delayed information, lack of information, or contradictory information. With that in mind, and since there will be more storms in the future, we have posted some information from the SHARE contract for your information.

So, what should SHARE members know about working during a State of Emergency or other big weather event?

Frequently Asked Questions
  1. How do I find out what I am supposed to do if there is a state of emergency or other severe weather?
  2. What if my department is closed?
  3. What if I don’t want to use my own time?
  4. Can’t they just send me home and pay me without having to use my time?
  5. How am I supposed to get to work if there is a travel ban?
  6. If I don’t come in during a storm, will it be held against me?

To see the full contract language about Severe Weather, p. 103-104, and about TOWOP, (being sent home by your department), p. 103, click here. (There are two parts to the contract: the 2007-2011 contract and the changes from our last negotiations, that continue the old contract through September 30, 2016, and add to it. Severe Weather and TOWOP can both be found in the old contract.)


Contract Corner - Weather FAQ

Below are some Frequently Asked Questions about Severe Weather, with the relevant language from the SHARE contract. Key points are underlined for emphasis.

1) How do I find out what I am supposed to do if there is a state of emergency or other severe weather?

The SHARE contract encourages each department to develop a plan that fits their department’s needs – obviously a nursing floor has different staffing needs than a billing department. Both jobs need to get done, but you can catch up with billing the next day; you can’t do that with patients. The contract says:
Department severe weather plans could include: what staffing level is required in the case of severe weather (such as full staffing, skeletal staffing, or no staffing necessary); how employees will find out if they are required to be at work that day, who to call and how to reach them; and whether there is a difference in their department between the plan for severe weather and the plan for a declared state of emergency. Department managers should review the severe weather plan for their department with all employees annually before winter weather begins. (Staffing plans, p.103)
If your department does not have a plan, talk to your manager, or call the SHARE office for help in approaching your manager, to discuss creating a plan.

2) What if my department is closed?

SHARE members in departments that close, or that allow some or all employees to stay home, have a few options. The contract says:
…employees may use earned, vacation or personal time, or choose to go unpaid for the hours they missed. When appropriate, an employee may make up the time that week, by mutual consent between the employee and the supervisor. Made up hours will be paid at straight time unless weekly hours total more than 40. (Pay for missed hours, p.104)
3) What if I don’t want to use my own time?

You can volunteer to work in another area. In negotiations, the Hospital has always taken the position that all positions are “Essential” in severe weather or a state of emergency. Part of their argument is that on these days they need all the help they can get and would happily put to work anyone who can get in. SHARE has always taken the position that no one should be forced to take time without pay, or use their own time, if they are available to work. This applies to severe weather, a low census, flooding, or other reasons a department might be inclined to send employees home. So, the contract says:

If a department is closed for all or part of the day due to severe weather, employees may go home (see pay for missed hours) or choose to report to/remain at work. The hospital may assign people who stay at work to perform different functions than their normal job. For a work assignment in an area other than your own, page the nursing supervisor/bed management: for the University campus, pager #2044; for the Memorial campus (on evenings, nights, weekends and holidays) pager #3318. (Department closing, early dismissal, p.104)

And:

No SHARE unit member shall be required to take TOWOP. When all other options have been explored, and there is no need to float, the SHARE unit member may take TOWOP or may use earned time or vacation/personal leave, whichever is applicable. If the SHARE member does not want to leave work (either unpaid, or using their own ET, or vacation/personal time whichever is applicable), the employee may choose to stay and be assigned reasonable other duties for which they are qualified (in this case, contract and practice restrictions on cross-campus and/or intra-campus floating will not apply.) If there are no such duties, and the employee is sent home, the employee will be paid. (TOWOP, p. 103)

4) Can’t they just send me home and pay me without having to use my time?

UMass Memorial could choose to send/keep employees home and pay them rather than finding other duties for them (see TOWOP, p.103), but it is very unusual for them to do so. Many years ago, at both UMass and Memorial, in cases of severe weather like last week’s state of emergency, it was more common for employees who were not required to be at work to be sent/kept home with pay, and employees who were required to be at work to be given additional pay or comp time for having to work. That has not been common practice for a while.

It is not a violation of the SHARE contract for the leadership of UMass Memorial Medical Group and/or UMass Memorial Medical Center to send employees home with pay. But it is not required by the contract either. (See question #3 for what the contract requires.) When there are inequities it has a negative impact on morale. SHARE is discussing this with hospital leadership.

5) How am I supposed to get to work if there is a travel ban?
Human Resources has assured us that any employee on their way to or from work should be allowed passage if they show their Hospital ID. We have heard some stories about people being given a hard time by the police for being on the road. If anyone received a ticket or a warning, let us know. HR will help you get it sorted out.

If the roads are impassable, if you live at the top (or bottom) of a steep icy hill, or if you take the bus to work and buses are not running, you may have a problem getting to work even though the police would allow you to. There is not one simple solution to this. UMass Memorial no longer provides rides in a coordinated way for people who can’t get in to work. If you are required to be at work, or you want to come in despite the storm, you can start by talking with your manager and coworkers about whether there is someone you could carpool with, or if they have other ideas. We will be discussing this further with management.

6) If I don’t come in during a storm, will it be held against me?
It depends on whether your department allowed you to stay home. If they did, then the absence will not count against you. The contract says:
If an employee does not work because the department is closed, or because they are not required to come to work, it will be considered an excused absence. Late arrivals covered by an established grace period will be considered an excused absence. Other absences from work on a severe weather day will be considered unexcused. (Excused and unexcused absences, p. 104)


To see the full contract language about Severe Weather and TOWOP, go to pages 103-104 of the SHARE contract

If you have other questions, or want to discuss any of this further, please call the SHARE office at 508-929-4020.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Did You Know? Under HIPAA, Your Medical Records Are Protected from Unauthorized Access (Even from You)

HIPAA has done a great deal of good to protect sensitive patient information. All the same, some members describe the advantages of the time before HIPAA, when patient information could come in handy, and be used for personal reasons. You might want to look up your own appointment time with a doctor, for example, or to figure out a co-worker's home address in order to send a birthday card. However, things are different now.

Sometimes, when SHARE members violate a hospital policy, they don't even think they've done so. While working to take care of themselves and their family, they might access protected information. SHARE members might not realize that their computer activity can be revealed in a routine system audit, and that unauthorized access can result in serious disciplinary action.

Most employees know that HIPAA guidelines permit an employee to access a patient's record only in one of two situations:
  1. For job-related reasons. Or, 
  2. If the employee submits a completed Employee Authorization for Electronic Access Form, which is filed with the Medical Records department. 
But, what about your husband's medical records? Or your children's? Or even your own? It's important to remember that the answer is: the same rules apply.

For example, even if you want to find out the results of your very own lab work, you must be authorized to do so through the Medical Records department, or contact your physician directly.

For more information, visit The US Department of Health and Human Services' "Understanding HIPAA" webpage 

Or, please feel free to call the SHARE office (508) 929-4020, or the UMass Memorial Privacy Office: (508) 334-5551