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.)

Partnership Day at FMCS Chicago



While some SHARE staff organizers were in for the long-haul at the FMCS Conference this week, other SHARE leaders made a quick hop out to Chicago and back for the kickoff event: Partnership Day. (It made for a long day . . . but some SHARE folks had to be back for contract negotiations early the next morning.)
CqArWSrXgAAHc8D.jpg:large.jpg
A strong union is necessary for
a strong partnership, says
Tom Kochan of MIT



Partnership Day showcased six union-management partnerships that have survived and even thrived for more than a decade. Two groups talked about partnerships in healthcare: Kaiser Permanente and the Coalition of KP Unions, and LA County Health Agency and the Service Employees International Union. (Click here for the full list and agenda.)  

The keynote speaker for the event was former U.S. Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich.


"Over and over, each group talked about how hard it is work in partnership. It's easier to go the traditional way, and be adversarial. But they also said the results are better in partnership: better for the employees, the patients, and for management," said SHARE Organizer, Janet Wilder.

SHARE Organizer Will Erickson's take-away idea was that any Labor-Management partnership--however well-developed, strategically planned, and strong it may seem--is always fragile.


IMG_2978.JPG
Both SHARE and UMass Memorial management learned
about union-management partnerships in Chicago:
Kati Korenda, Senior Director,
Heart and Vascular Center of Excellence,
and Bobbi-Jo Lewis, SHARE Co-President
Kati Korenda of the Heart and Vascular Center told us that she was struck by the story of International Paper, which, in its long history, had its share of labor-management strife, including strikes and lockouts; at a critical moment, however, they turned around the direction of their relationship, and their partnership has led the company to new vibrancy and success.


Each time SHARE talks with union folks from Kaiser Permanente, we learn more about how we might work in partnership at UMass Memorial, and what we might get out of it. Denise Duncan, President of UNAC/AFSCME, which represents RNs in Southern California told us over dinner, 
"I was against this at first. But now I'm convinced that partnership is the way to go. We have UNAC members who work at Kaiser Permanente and at other more traditional employers, so I see the difference every day. Our members at Kaiser have better contracts, and a better experience day-to-day at work."

Partnership Day panel, with the Kaiser group on the left,
Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld,
and the LA County group on the far right.






Future @ Work: SHARE at the FMCS Conference 2016



SHARE leaders have travelled to Chicago this week to attend the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services Conference. The event brings together an all-star cast of labor and industry leaders, as well as academics and facilitators.

SHARE/UMass Memorial
Interest-Based Bargaining Facilitator, 
Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld,
moderating the Partnership Day discussion
In past years, SHARE has presented at the conference, describing our unique kind of union, as well as our successes with UMass Memorial to engage our members in improving patient experiences.


This year, the theme is “Future @ Work.” SHARE has focused its attention on the various models of union-management partnership to better understand how we can better cultivate our own union for the future. Participants at this year’s conference have been invited to:


  • Learn from distinguished labor, management, and new economy thought leaders
  • Problem Solve at workshops focused on actual situations and practical solutions
  • Network with labor relations and workplace professionals from around the country and the world
  • Prepare your organization for the future with advice from experts who are forging paths to partnership and organizational success


Former U.S. Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich,
delivering the keynote address
at FMCS 2016 Partnership Day
The FMCS is an independent agency within the Federal Government whose mission is “to preserve and promote labor-management peace and cooperation.” Their staff provides mediation and conflict and resolution services to business, government, and community groups around the country. Speakers at this year’s conference  include national labor-management and economy leaders, such as Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO; Bill Ford, Jr., Executive Chairman of the Ford Motor Company; and Thomas Perez, U.S. Secretary of Labor.

We’re looking forward to hearing reports from the various panels, presentations, and workshops that our friends are attending. More to come . . .




Friday, August 12, 2016

Contract Negotiations 2016: Session #2

THIS WEEK, in a NUTSHELL


SHARE and UMass Memorial had our second contract negotiations session on Wednesday, August 10. As we reported last week, these negotiations continue to feel different from past negotiations. One key difference is the use of “co-facilitation,” a new process involving one union and one management leader to steer each discussion. This week we continued our focus on issues from the previous session:


  • Interactions between SHARE members and supervisors and managers, which SHARE brought to the table. This week, Tod Wiesman (AVP, Performance, Learning, and Education) addressed the negotiators; he described the ideas that the hospital’s executive leadership is developing to train and cultivate hospital leaders.

  • Increasing flexibility for cross-campus floating, which management brought to the table. This week, five front-line managers were brought in to describe their interests in floating SHARE employees. We also established an additional side table to drill down further on the issue of floating.


We started with 2 difficult issues, where managers and union leaders start from very different places. We are working to understand each other, and to try to find common ground.

For more info, read on...



WHY ARE THESE NEGOTIATIONS DIFFERENT?


Of course, every round of negotiations will feel different. In the three or so years between contracts, things change. Each negotiations, SHARE welcomes a few new members to its team, and misses a few from before. That said, our team remains relatively constant: a majority of our team members have negotiated before. On the flip side, UMass Memorial has an entirely new Executive Leadership team since our previous negotiations, and the leadership of the hospital’s Labor Relations department has completely turned over since our last negotiations. This results in a new management negotiating team. While many of the members of their team bring significant experience to the table, the leaders of their team are experiencing Interest Based Bargaining for the first time.


The teams at the main table are also bigger than we’ve had in the past. This has the advantage of people bringing experiences from a wide range of departments to the discussion. Management's team is a combination of Human Resources people, and front-line and middle managers. 

Though we are trying to use Interest Based Bargaining, we can't leave history behind entirely, and it’s easy to fall into old habits of traditional bargaining. We’re all working to establish good foundations for ongoing relationships, as we tackle some of the most ambitious subjects SHARE has addressed in negotiations.


A New Experiment: Co-Facilitation


One part of these negotiations that is new to everyone involved is “co-facilitation.” Our early training sessions and initial bargaining session were led by a facilitator, Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld. He trained two individuals from each side to act as neutrals, guiding the discussions about particular topics. The facilitators are:


  • Myra Shah, UMMMC Human Resources
  • Jeff Mogan, UMMMC Labor Relations
  • Will Erickson, SHARE
  • Elisabeth Szanto, SHARE  


Although the facilitators each come from within the teams of negotiators, when they’re in the role of co-facilitator, they put on a different hat. Their job is to make sure that the conversation is flowing, and that we’re driving toward conclusions efficiently. They also help to make sure that notes are being captured accurately. (One other unique aspect of this negotiations is that notes are being taken and displayed, in real time, on an overhead projector.)


KEEP INVOLVED


We’ll keep the updates coming on the blog. To learn more, and weigh in about either of the topics we’ve discussed, and about what topics are coming up, please join us at an upcoming SHARE Information Meeting about Contract Negotiations.

Monday, August 8, 2016

SHARE Information meetings about Contract Negotiations

Contract negotiations have started. We are trying to finish by October 1st. Join us to discuss what's happening in negotiations!

SHARE’s priorities come from the SHARE members who filled out the SHARE survey last fall, and from SHARE info meetings and conversations since then. The survey results are summarized here.  The SHARE priorities are here as well as on the statement that many SHARE members signed onto in the last couple of months.

Info Meetings for SHARE Members’ Input about Proposals

The specific proposals of how to make progress on those priorities are being discussed at negotiations during August and September. SHARE Info Meetings are a chance for you to hear what we are talking about and give your opinions. Please join us at a meeting near you.

University: Thurs, August 11      11:30-1:30     Room S2-309B (2nd floor of the Medical School)

Memorial: Fri, August 12            11:30-1:30     Nursing conference room (toward the ED from the cafeteria)

Hahnemann: Mon, August 22    11:30-1:30     2nd floor conference room

67 Millbrook: Thurs, August 25  11:30-1:30     Thom McAn conference room

306 Belmont: Fri, September 9    11:30-1:30     Conference room D

Tri-River: Fri, September 23       11:30-1:30      Community Room

These meetings are “rolling” meetings – come for whatever part of the meeting is your lunch break. Feel free to bring your lunch, your thoughts and questions, and a friend!

If you’d like to set up a meeting at a time and place that works for you and your co-workers, call the SHARE office (508-929-4020, extension 10) and leave a message.

Contract Negotiations 2016: Our First Session


SHARE and UMass Memorial had their first contract negotiations session last Wednesday. For those of us on the SHARE Negotiating Team who have negotiated several contracts before this, this session seemed really different. Our training on Interest Based Bargaining, and our choice to have a facilitator to run negotiations, are positive changes.

Here’s what we accomplished at our first session:
  • Set up side tables to negotiations to work on specific issues.
  • Mapped out a schedule of when each issue will be discussed. We’ve never done this before, and we think it will help make sure we are moving forward quickly.
  • Began discussions about 2 issues:
    • Interactions between SHARE members and supervisors and managers, which SHARE brought to the table.
    • Increasing flexibility for cross-campus floating, which management brought to the table.
  • We worked hard to understand each other’s interests in bringing this issue forward, and to begin brainstorm solutions that everyone might be able to agree to. No agreements were made on either issue yet.


For more info about either of these 2 topics and about what topics are being discussed at negotiations, or to put in your opinion, please join us at SHARE Information Meetings about Contract Negotiations.

Contract Negotiations Side Tables


 SHARE and UMass Memorial are trying something new in our negotiations this time. As you may remember from our last round of negotiations, SHARE and UMass Memorial management had a side table to discuss changes to the pension, before we started negotiations about the rest of the issues. The Pension Table brought together people from both union and management to focus in-depth on the pension, which worked quite well.

This time, we are building on that success. Multiple side tables will meet in the afternoons after the Main Table meets. These smaller groups can focus on their issue and bring recommendations to the Main Table.
  •  Teams & Culture Side Table– This side table (who might change their name once they get started) is looking at examples of team-based work systems in other places to see what we want to try here at UMass Memorial. At Kaiser Permanente, unit based teams help groups do process improvement to make the work easier, and train everyone on how to work together as a team.  SHARE believes a team structure also could improve how SHARE members and supervisors and managers work together, which was a big priority coming out of the SHARE member survey last fall (link to SHARE letter and survey results). 
  • Career Development Side Table – SHARE wants to increase ways for SHARE members to learn and grow in their jobs and to build careers at UMass Memorial. A group will also discuss how internal applications and transfers are working.
  • In-patient PCA Staffing Side Table – This side table will look at how the patient care model is working on the inpatient floors. SHARE hopes to address PCAs’ concerns about how many patients they have to provide care for. (Staffing is a big concern for many SHARE members – we will be discussing staffing for other areas at the Main Table.)
  • Call-Back and Sleep Time Side Table – This side table is tackling issues for SHARE members who take call.
  • In addition, mini side table groups will discuss salary scales for peer-slotted titles in SHARE, the pension floor to protect lower paid SHARE members, and 401K auto-enrollment for new employees.

 Our hope is that side tables will help us get more done quickly in negotiations, and bring more new ideas into the negotiations. We’ll keep you posted.