Saturday, September 17, 2016

SHARE and UMass Memorial Contract Negotiations: Weeks 6 & 7


A quick update! Our SHARE Negotiating Team is hard at work. We've doubled up the number of days we're meeting with management each week. We hope to see you at one of next week's Post Your Poster events, and are excited to talk with you about what's happening.

Since our last post, we've met around the main negotiating table three days. In addition to those sessions, members of the negotiating teams have done related work in Follow-Up-Groups, Side Tables, and other meetings.

The main table has now begun discussing Work Security and Raises. We are not yet talking about dollar amounts or percentages at this point, but exchanging interests. We're making very clear to the management negotiating team that we're committed to developing new processes for making our hospital run better . . . but that the cost of those projects cannot be at the expense of good raises, that a financial commitment to each SHARE member is an essential show of confidence and sign of respect as we continue to talk about partnership.

Most recently, the main table discussed proposed ideas and options from the "Documenting Department Policies" Follow-Up-Group. And we had an introductory presentation from members of the "Teams and Culture" Side Table, in which they introduced the concept of the Unit Based Team (or UBT) as it exists at the Kaiser Permanente hospitals, and proposed some ideas about how UBT's might function at our hospital. For a look at UBT's in action, here's a three-minute video that we all watched:


video

Next week we'll be talking more about UBT's, and more. Stay tuned! See you at Post Your Poster!

Friday, September 16, 2016

*Post Your Poster* Events

We’re very excited to unveil the new poster that displays our signatures and statement of priorities. It is a beautiful thing. Thank you for making it happen! Please stop by at one of the following Post Your Poster events with your friends and co-workers and pick up a copy for your department.

SHARE 2016 Post Your Poster
Distribution Locations and Times
Sept 19 (Mon) – 11:30-1:30 Memorial Campus, Memorial 1 Conference Room
Sept 20 (Tues) –  7:30-9:00 WBC, 5th Floor
Sept 20 (Tues) – 11:30-1:30 University Campus
                                              old front entrance hallway by the Prescription Center
Sept 22 (Thurs) – 11:30-1:30 Hahnemann Campus, 2nd floor conference room
(We are booking a room at 306 Belmont as we speak.)


Before it shipped out for printing, 2,100 SHARE members signed on to this show of support. That’s 80% of the SHARE-eligible employees in our hospital’s largest union.
At each poster event listed above, we’ll have a large 2’ x 3’ poster that you and your co-workers can bring back to your department and hang proudly.
We’d love to see everyone who can make it! Take your picture with your co-workers. And show your support by posting your poster on Facebook, Twitter, and your favorite social media websites.

LEARN MORE
Of course, we’ll talk in more detail at the Post Your Poster events, and answer your questions. Our negotiating team is working hard and fast on a wide range of interweaving issues. There’s still a lot to do, but we’re optimistic about making new, meaningful improvements in our workplace soon, and eager to talk with you about what’s happening around the negotiating table.
We’ll continue posting updates regularly here on the SHARE blog. (Lately, we’ve been negotiating more frequently and posting less. Most recently at the table, we discussed Unit Based Teams, and will post about all of this and more very soon.)

THANK YOU
Thank you for supporting our negotiating team, our hospital, and our ambitious efforts to improve the day-to-day at UMass Memorial, both for employees and for patients.

SHARE and UMass Memorial Contract Negotiations: Week 5, Discipline

In a NUTSHELL

Wednesday, August 31st marked the SHARE Negotiating Team's fifth all-day contract negotiations session UMass Memorial. 

We talked about the disciplinary process, and the problem-solving process. (The disciplinary steps are listed in the contract -- most people call it "being written up." They start with counseling, and go up to termination. The problem solving process is the steps that Human Resources and SHARE use to discuss and agree or disagree about the level of discipline that a SHARE member gets if their manager or the hospital thinks they did something wrong.)

In addition, members of the Peer-Slotted Scales side table reported back to the main table about options that could create more equity and clarity among the mostly techs job titles that are peer-slotted.

For more detail about this week's session, please read on.

DISCIPLINE

SHARE and management both wanted to talk about how to improve the disciplinary process. Management wanted to talk about timelines, and making sure the process keeps moving. 

SHARE wants to bring some of the ideas from lean organizations to how we use discipline:
  • Mistakes should be viewed as an opportunity to improve.
  • Moving away from a "culture of shame and blame" and focusing more on fixing the systems that make it easy to make mistakes.

SHARE and UMass Memorial don't always agree about how much discipline a SHARE member should get. However, we find that we do have interests in common:
  • Respect for SHARE members -- We talked about how to treat SHARE members whose performance or behavior is the subject of a disciplinary meeting.
  • Interest-Based Processes -- We choose to try to resolve the problem and help the SHARE member and manager move forward, rather than to emphasize an adversarial approach.
  • Keeping discipline as local and informal as possible, to help supervisors and SHARE employees resolve issues before they grow and get worse.
  • Transparency and good communication between Human Resources and SHARE, especially when we disagree.
  • Balancing the need for consistency in discipline with the flexibility to recognize the uniqueness of each person and each situation.

September Negotiations

SHARE and UMass Memorial both want to finish by the expiration of our contract, September 30th. (Of course, making sure the right things are in the contract is more important to SHARE than finishing on time!) We've agreed to add several more days of negotiations in September to try to meet our timeline.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Interviewer in the Spotlight: Laurie Lynch

by Kirk Davis, SHARE Staff Organizer

Laurie Lynch is relentlessly curious. She is best known to SHARE blog readers as the architect and interviewer behind the “Member in the Spotlight” series on the SHARE-UMMS blog. We consistently seek ways to make work feel like a more fun and respectful place, and Laurie Lynch had one particularly focused vision for making that happen.

Each month for six months, Laurie gave us a portrait of a SHARE member at UMMS. You could call it fifteen minutes of local fame. But Laurie’s aim was something bigger, something more meaningful.

When she conducted an interview, Laurie’s questions went here to there and back again. They were icebreakers. They were mundane. They were lofty. They were weird. The questions stabbed from odd angles into a person’s personality. The results were always surprising. And in the end, the interviews weren’t exactly about employees of UMass Medical School, they were beautiful glimpses into the complex lives of people with whom we cross paths every day.

Turning the Spotlight on the Interviewer

We intend to continue in the tradition, using Laurie’s example as a way to further develop our community. Along those lines, now that Laurie has moved on to a “new” career (one which she adored for over a decade, before the facility shut down), we’ll shine the spotlight up through the dust trail she’s left behind her (she’s always on the move) as a way of saying thank you to her for her excellent work on the SHARE organizing staff.

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree

Laurie’s from Earth. But, if you push her further on that question, she’ll tell you she’s grew up in North Attleboro, Massachusetts. With three siblings, a wonderful father, and a mother who was and still is an absolute animal lover. There, when she was ten, she met her future husband; they began dating when she was twelve. They eventually married. By the time she was nineteen, they owned their first home in Douglas, where they still live together to this day with their polite and amazing thirteen and fourteen year-old sons.  

Along the way, Laurie picked up a degree in Animal Science from Becker College, and one in Psychology from Bay Path University. Laurie Lynch is constantly fostering dogs, cats, and, from what I can tell, helping entire populations of displaced pets to find new homes. She has traveled around the US, attending all sorts of animal-trainings and conferences, learning how to help continue to aid and improve the lives of animals in research.

Laurie the Shoeless Organizer

Laurie worked as a SHARE staff organizer, brilliantly if briefly, over the past year, mostly with the UMass Medical School side of our union. Early in her work with SHARE, she went “organizing” with another member of the SHARE staff, Andrea Caceres. They went to stop in on a number of SHARE members that day, providing updates about SHARE events, answering questions, and generally keeping in touch with members.

At that point, Laurie didn’t know many members. But she’s a good listener, good-humored and a good sport. Although she was determined to be a dutiful work partner to Andrea, *snap!*, Laurie’s sandals gave up before she did.

And then, somehow, Laurie found herself being convinced by Andrea that they needed to continue through the halls until they had reached everyone they were looking for. So, they made a quick stop in the University Bookstore. When they emerged, Laurie’s feet were shod in a new pair of fluorescent socks. Of course, Laurie wondered if that might not seem a little weird, but when Andrea told her to just keep looking up, nobody would notice, Laurie didn’t flinch, and bravely padded along in her new job.

Laurie Now

Laurie has since returned to a career in Animal Behavioral Research, a track she began with a series of positions at Harvard University. While Laurie was working at SHARE, a Principal Investigator from Brown University approached her and offered her a job she couldn’t refuse, managing his animal lab. She’s back to playing with monkeys all day, trying to figure out how to make them happiest, and learning along the way about animal and human behavior, neuroengineering, optogenetics, and groundbreaking scientific discovery. We miss her here, but we’re very excited that she’s back to doing what she loves; research and caring for primates and all the other wonderful animals in her lab.


20 Fun Facts about Laurie Lynch

  • Favorite color – Blue
  • Favorite season – Fall
  • Beach or woods – Woods
  • The first thing you think of when you hear the word “chocolate?” - Nay
  • What was your worst kitchen disaster? Hmmmmm, well it might not be the kind of kitchen disaster you were looking for, but it happened in my childhood kitchen. My older brother convinced me it would be a good idea to play with matches when I was about 6 or 7. Long story short… the trash light on fire in the kitchen, which caught the curtains on fires, which lead to the wall, etc. It was very early in the morning, my dad was at work and my mom was sleeping. Once my brother finally realized it was out of control, he let me go wake my mother who was able to put most out before the fire department arrived and finished the job for her.
  • Do you have any pets (ha ha!) – 2 adopted dogs and 2 adopted ferrets and most of the time a foster dog in search of their forever home.
  • If you could keep any kind of pet (ethically and responsibly, of course), what would it be? A horse. I’ve always wanted a horse, just don’t have the time, space and money a horse requires.
  • Dream vacation – Anywhere, as long as my husband and kids are there and we are all safe and happy
  • Favorite style of music – Depends on my mood
  • Do you untie your shoes when you take them off –  No
  • Gift you have given others most often – Probably framed photographs
  • Favorite day of the week – Saturday… day most often spent with family and friends
  • T.V. shows you secretly enjoy – Teen Mom
  • What's your biggest pet peeve – Mean people
  • Do you have dream car – Nope
  • If you got stranded on a deserted island with no power source, what 5 items would you bring – Solar or crank-chargeable radio, lighter, tent, fishing gear and water purifier
  • How’d you get your name? – My mother was named after her mother and my oldest sister after the two of them. My brother was named after my father. My 2nd oldest sister’s name is Sherie Jean, so they wanted our names to be as similar as possible so they named me Laurie Jean (our names kinda rhyme, and end in “rie,” and we have the same middle name.)
  • What languages do you speak – English only
  • Favorite hobbies –  Spending time with my boys!
  • Fun fact that not everyone knows about you – I foster dogs and occasionally cats. Oh and a more interesting one is that I LOVE going ghost hunting at “haunted” locations, like inns and old abandoned prisons.   
  • Do you have a favorite life motto – Live, Laugh, Love

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Family Fun! Labor Day Event


This Labor Day, Lawrence Massachusetts will host its 32nd Annual Bread & Roses Heritage Festival. The family-friendly event will feature fun activities, including historic walking and trolley tours, performances by the renowned Bread & Puppet Theater, pony rides, juggling, exhibits, social justice sign painting, a kids-zone, and more, all free of charge.
The event commemorates the historic Lawrence Textile Strike, which involved over 20,000 diverse men and women who worked in the local mills. They spent the brutally cold winter of 1912 opposing, specifically, pay-cuts resulting from a shortened workweek, and, more generally, the deplorable working conditions of the mills.  
We know and appreciate that many SHARE members will be doing important work to keep our hospital and medical school running on the holiday. The Festival will run from 11:30am-5:30pm. Several from SHARE plan to converge at Campagnone Common for the event. We hope you can join us! The drive is under an hour from the main UMass Medical School campus.


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Contract Negotiations 2016, Session 4: Staffing & Leaves of Absence



THIS WEEK, in a NUTSHELL


SHARE and UMass Memorial had their fourth contract negotiations session on Wednesday, August 24. This week, we focused on:


  • Staffing. This is an issue that SHARE brought to the table. Front-line employees on our negotiating team explained the trend toward working with fewer hands in each department, and the frustrations and hazards of working with a thin crew. We discussed with management a range of possibilities for addressing that problem, as described in more detail below.
  • Leaves of Absence (LOAs). This is an issue that management brought to the table. Managers described how many SHARE members take LOAs, and how difficult it is to staff a department when people are out. Of particular interest to management is that our hospital provides job protections beyond those mandated by the law, including protections for SHARE members who work less than 1250 hours each year. SHARE expressed a number of interests, including that we have always believed that part-time members--many of whom have family obligations or can't get full-time work in the hospital--should have full access to medical leaves and other benefits.


Read on for more detail . . .


WHAT DOES SHARE SAY about STAFFING?


If you’re reading this, you probably already know the answer. You’re working on the front lines yourself, and you know what your co-workers are saying. We presented to management facts from the most recent anonymous SHARE surveys, including:


  • 41% of SHARE members disagree that staffing levels are adequate in their departments. That's 660 SHARE members.
  • In all, SHARE members wrote nearly 500 comments in the survey expressing concern about their workload or staffing levels in their department. The SHARE Negotiating Team read aloud a couple dozen of these comments so that the management negotiating team could hear what SHARE members have to say. (We made sure all comments were anonymous, leaving out department details.)

Of course, SHARE recognizes that more staff cost money. We want our hospitals to be financially stable, and we don't want to go back to the days of substantial layoffs nearly every year. We also know that sometimes the problem isn't just the number of staff -- if you spend a bunch of your shift looking for linen, that's a system problem that needs to be fixed.


That said, many SHARE members who have been here for any length of time are now operating in departments that have seen significant decreases in staffing levels, and are now feeling the effects as the resulting stresses build up. Many people leave their shifts exhausted, and worried about what they might have missed because they were running so fast all day. 

SHARE members don't know how the decisions are made about how many staff a department has, and we aren't part of those decisions. When decisions are made without us, they're made without all the information, which isn't good for us or the hospital.


WHY IS MANAGEMENT CONCERNED about LEAVES of ABSENCE?


The management side listed the kinds of LOAs that a SHARE member might potentially take. They say that intermittent leaves create particular problems for department staffing, particularly when those leaves are taken unexpectedly. SHARE has made a number of data requests to better understand how often these leaves are being taken, and how changing any policies would actually affect staffing. The kinds of LOAs break down into two broad categories:




Members of the management team highlighted they’re focused on the systematic problems that result from these leaves. They recognize their legal obligations to protect jobs. They said that this discussion isn’t about calling into question the legitimacy of leave requests, but about addressing the staffing issues that result from leaves of absence.

SHARE pointed out that the issues of LOAs and staffing are linked. When departments are staffing with just enough staff, it's tough to run the department when people are out sick.

We’ll continue working on these issues through joint working groups, and be back at the table for negotiations next week. Stay tuned for more . . .

Friday, August 19, 2016

Documenting Department Policies -- Getting Rid of the Gray

SHARE members sometimes become frustrated by what they see as "gray areas" in the contract. In an attempt to fix some of these issues, SHARE has made a proposal in contract negotiations to systematize several department-level decisions in black-and-white.

Why the Gray?

SHARE represents almost two hundred job titles, in departments ranging from the tiny variety with two secretaries who work day shift, to enormous departments such as the Emergency Room, which has seventy-four SHARE members, in a variety of jobs, working shifts 24/7. That range leads to some complex challenges. For example, how do you write a vacation policy that would serve all those departments well, especially since they all start off with different ways of handling vacations?

SHARE's answer to that question is to emphasize the input of SHARE members in the department. The SHARE contract has always said that the way vacations are scheduled should be decided in the department, in discussions between the local SHARE members and the local managers. Our position has been that department policies will be different, and differences between departments are ok, as long as the SHARE members in each department have a say.

Most often, where SHARE encounters problems, it's not because of differences between departments, it's because of confusion. In some departments, the vacation policy is very clear because it's written down clearly. If a new manager or a group of SHARE members wants to change the policy because things have changed, they can involve everyone in that discussion. All good.

In other departments, however, the vacation policy isn't written down, and SHARE members get surprised by how it happens each year, or because changes get made without involving staff.

Developing a System for Clarifying and Including SHARE Member Input

SHARE is proposing that every department make sure they have a written policy for the parts of the contract that are left up to SHARE members and their managers to work out in the department. We'd avoid a lot of confusion and problems. SHARE and HR would provide help for any department having a tough time reaching a consensus agreement. We are working toward an agreement that would create deadlines and accountability in order to make sure these policies get documented.

(We also discussed absenteeism and the Massachusetts Earned Sick law at negotiations this week.)