Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Notes

Season's greetings!

Please note that the SHARE office will be closed December 27th-31st. During that time, a skeleton crew will tend our general voicemail, and provide coverage for emergencies.

It's been a busy year for SHARE, and we're very glad to have weathered it so well. Of course, there's still plenty of work to be done. Though most of the fifty-five SHARE members who were laid-off over the past year are re-situated, we are committed to continue helping the twelve who still seek jobs. We'll also continue our fight for fair pricing on the health-care coverage in the new year, too, and will keep you posted.

Finally, we'd like to highlight a good thing in our community: the UMass Memorial Bell Hill-East Side Homeownership Initiative. This project provides training and financial assistance for qualifying UMass Memorial employees who wish to become first-time home-buyers. According the the Mass Housing Partnership, the initiative is a "$1 million down-payment and neighborhood revitalization fund for the neighborhoods around the three UMass Memorial campuses." For more information, see this story, or call the program administrator at 508-341-9859.

We wish you and your families a happy and safe holiday time. See you next year!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

pre-Thanksgiving update

We want to wish you a happy and safe Thanksgiving, and to give you an update on a few union issues.


Of the 55 SHARE members who were affected by the layoffs this fall, twelve people are still looking for a new job in the system. Congratulations to those who found a new position, and good luck in your new job! SHARE Reps continue to support the twelve who are still looking. Many thanks to all the SHARE Reps who helped members through the layoff. Our best wishes to those who have decided to take the layoff and retire, go back to school, or move on to something else, including some wonderful people who volunteered to be laid off so that others could stay!

Health Insurance Rates

We are continuing to work on this issue, and will keep you updated as we go along.

No Dues Increase

There will be no increase in SHARE dues in 2011. The rate is set by our national union, AFSCME, and is based on the average wage increase of the million-plus AFSCME members over the past year. The average increase across the country was so close to zero that there will be no increase in dues this year.
Best wishes to you and your family!

Friday, November 5, 2010

SHARE needs your help!

Whatever you select for your benefit plan during this open enrollment season, we are asking you to please let us know what plan you choose and why. We are collecting this information as part of our continuing campaign to get the rates corrected. You can email us at . . .

Update to SHARE Members about Health Insurance Choices

 We have been distributing the below information via email and outside UMass Memorial's benefit fairs, and include it here in case you haven't yet received it . . . 

We believe that the hospital is charging employees too much for the 2011 premiums for Blue Cross and for Tufts. Over the last two weeks, we have been talking with hospital management, trying to get the rates down to the right amounts before everyone had to choose which plan to be on next year. Unfortunately, they have not agreed to change the rates.

Next steps – individual choices, collective action
We will not stop trying to fix this problem. However, it now looks very unlikely to be fixed before you have to choose your insurance plan. We will write soon with more information about what the problems are, what has happened so far in our conversations with management, and what we are going to do next. For now, however, you will have to pick your plan knowing what the rates are now, and knowing that the union is trying to change them, but not knowing what the final answer will be.

Which plan should I choose?
Four out of five SHARE members who take the health insurance currently have Network Blue HMO. The hospital is encouraging people to switch to their new “Employee Advantage” plan (basically the Fallon plan, with some benefits if you use UMass Memorial doctors). They are offering a much lower weekly premium rate.

Ø      Some SHARE members have told us that they will switch because of the cost.
Ø      Some will not or cannot switch, despite the cost.
Ø      Some will wait a year and see how this new plan will work out.

SHARE can neither recommend the Employees Advantage plan, nor recommend against it. It was not negotiated with the union, and we haven’t been able to explore all the details.

How is the hospital shifting costs to employees?
Management is using the low cost of the Employee Advantage plan to increase the cost of the other plans for employees. They have to pay 85% of one plan. They have created a new plan, set an artificially low cost, and they are paying 85% of that lower cost. That leaves people who don’t switch to the new plan paying 40% more for Network Blue in 2011 than they did in 2010. The hospital claims that they are not violating our contract. We disagree. And we are going to continue to fight their decision.

So choose the best health plan for you and you family, let us know how you made your decision, and stay tuned. We will send out more information soon.

SHARE Information Meeting Locations & Times

SHARE Information Meetings:
To discuss the proposed management changes to SHARE members' health insurance and other issues, please join us at a SHARE Information Meeting:
  • University Campus: Goff S1-608--Fri, Nov 5, 12-1:30                                    
  • Hahnemann: 2nd Floor Conf. Room--Tues, November 9, 11:30-1 
  • Memorial: Memorial 1 Conf. Room--Wed, November 10, 11:30-1 
  • 306 Belmont Street: Belmont Room--Fri, November 12, 12-1:30

We are setting up meetings for Tri River, Home Health, Biotech 3, Farmhouse and PTC. If you would like a meeting at a location or time not listed, give us a call and we will work with you to set up another meeting. The phone number for the SHARE office is 508-929-4020.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

SHARE: as seen on the TEA website!

We recently got a warm hello--and an exciting new update--from our friends at the Tufts Employee Association. Former SHARE organizers Will Erickson and Janet Wilder are currently helping support staff at Tufts University to create their own union.  When they heard about our website, they asked me to say hi, and that they miss their old friends at UMass Memorial!

Will and Janet and their friends are also excited to brag about their own new website, which includes a spotlight on SHARE members. The TEA site has a full page of SHARE members describing their experience at UMass Memorial. Check it out:

The Tufts Employee Association would be open to clerical and technical workers on all three of Tufts major campuses--including the nearby Grafton veterinary school, as well as those in Boston and Medford. If you would like to share your own SHARE experience, let us know. And if you know someone who works at Tufts, we would be happy to know that, too. The organizing staff would love to meet them!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Contract Corner #1: Personal Emergency Time

There's a lot of information in the SHARE contract. This is the first installment of a new column to highlight and explain useful items that you might not have noticed. . . .

Sometimes, unfortunately, cats get very sick. Sometimes dishwashers go berserk. Sometimes automobiles crash into the trees in our front yards. Things happen sometimes, unexpectedly . . . and those things require our attention, even if we're scheduled to be at work.

For that reason, it's a very good thing to know about something in our contract called "Personal Emergency Time." It provides time off when you're in a pinch. Personal Emergency Time can be deducted from your personal/vacation bank, and provides two days of time (for full-time employees) per year. As with any absence from work, it's important to give your supervisor as much notice as possible. Also, be sure to be clear that you're using Personal Emergency Time. Not all managers will be familiar with the idea, so you may need to share the contract language with them after the crisis has passed. Here's what our contract says:

SHARE members may use up to 2 days (for full time members, pro-rated for part time members) from their earned/vacation bank for personal emergency without prior notice in a calendar year. The members must notify their supervisors with as much notice as possible. These absences do not count toward a member’s absenteeism rate. Designating an absence as a personal emergency day must be approved by the supervisor, and approval will not be unreasonably denied. SHARE members should recognize the difficulty that unscheduled absences create for their department and co-workers, and so use good judgment about using personal emergency days.

If you have questions about this--or anything else in the contract--please contact a SHARE representative.

Monday, September 13, 2010

SHARE Q & A about Layoffs

There are many questions circulating as a result of the recent layoffs at UMass Memorial. Those SHARE members who were given notice have each been paired with a SHARE Rep. The Rep will help them in the days and weeks ahead, until they have a new job, or other arrangement that suits them.

Those who have been laid off have also been given the FAQ below, which includes answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about SHARE's policies. Please contact us in the SHARE office (508-929-4020) if you would like to volunteer to take someone's place in the layoff, or if you have other questions.

I need a job and benefits - what help can I get?

SHARE and UMass Memorial are committed to working with you to find another job here if you want one. A laid-off employee has higher hiring priority than other internal candidates and will be provided with current job postings within the hospital system.

There are some open positions, and if the open positions don’t work out, SHARE has a process for requesting volunteers for layoff, and you may be able to swap into one of their jobs if we can find a good match. You can also get help looking at other affiliated hospitals, at UMass Medical School, and outside. Additionally, SHARE has a negotiated training fund that laid off employees can use to improve their skills in order to find another job.

How long will I have a paycheck and benefits if I am laid off?

The answer depends on how long you have worked at UMass Memorial.
  • You get at least 4 weeks notice from today.
  • When your Notice Period ends, if you don’t have a new job already, you will get Severance Pay for 2 to 8 weeks. You get one week for every full year that you have worked here, with a minimum of 2 weeks and a maximum of 8 weeks. You do not work during severance.
  • In addition, the SHARE contract keeps you on the payroll as long as your earned time/vacation and holiday time last, instead of getting it paid out in a lump sum. This allows you to continue your health insurance at the employee weekly rate.
  • You can apply for unemployment as soon as your severance begins.


What happens after my notice, severance and benefit time are paid out?

The goal is for you to have another job by then. However, you will be eligible for unemployment insurance. Taxes are not deducted from your unemployment check, so you pay them when you file your taxes.

Your health insurance stops when you have used up your severance and your time on the books. You can get help paying for health insurance after that. Human Resources have a packet of information about your benefits, and about unemployment.

Is there bumping in the SHARE contract?

No. When we negotiated our contract, we had many discussions about bumping. In the end, we decided not to put bumping in the contract. People who have been through it said that it created bad feeling to have people taking each other’s jobs, and that after the whole long process was over, it sometimes ended up that people with the wrong skills were in the job. Instead, we work to find everyone a job. Also, our contract has a process where people can volunteer to be laid off, and if we can match up the right skills, someone may be able to swap into their job.

What can my SHARE rep do to help me?

Your SHARE rep is there to give you moral support, to help you think through your choices, and to make sure that you know about all the resources that are available to you. Please feel free to ask for any kind of help or support that you want, both when you first hear about the layoff and afterwards. If your rep doesn’t know the answer to a question or can’t do what you need, they will know where to get the answer or support.

Layoff Update

We want to let you know what we know about the recent layoffs at UMass Memorial Hospital. 

All together, just under 40 SHARE members have been given notice that they will be laid off, or have their hours cut significantly. Each SHARE member will have a SHARE Rep to work with, starting on the day of their notice, and continuing as long as they need help. The Reps are there for support, to make sure everyone knows what benefits and options they have, and to help people figure out what they want to do next. This is some of the most important work that our union does, and we are grateful to have such caring reps working so supportively.

West 2
As you have probably heard, the hospital recently announced that they would close West 2, an inpatient nursing floor on the Memorial campus. There are 21 SHARE members on that floor, and an even larger number of Registered Nurses, Per-Diems, and other employees. SHARE Reps met with our members to help them understand what will happen now, what their rights are, and to try to process this devastating news.
Walter Ettinger wrote a letter to the community on Friday explaining the hospital's need to constantly reassess staffing levels and expenses. Among other things, he said: "We know additional areas of our work will be impacted as will other members of our workforce. However, it is important to note that at this time we do not have plans to close any other inpatient unit at the Medical Center."

Other Layoffs Last Week
Last week there were more layoffs, spread out over different departments on different campuses. Again, SHARE Reps were with the affected members when they heard the news, and will stick with them in the weeks ahead.

More Information

Postcards about layoff "swaps" were mailed to all SHARE members last week. We will post more information about that on this blog. We will also provide answers to some common questions about layoffs, and continue providing updates here.

Monday, September 6, 2010


Welcome to the SHARE website! Although we still prefer person-to-person communication, we will use our new blog to post current news, useful tidbits (Contract Corner), advice on surviving and thriving at UMass Memorial (Word to the Wise), and other items of interest to SHARE members.

If you click on the tabs above, you will find contact information for SHARE staff, and a link to the 2007-2011 SHARE/UMass Memorial contract. (This site includes a printer-friendly .pdf version of the contract . . . contact a SHARE representative if you would prefer a pre-printed copy.)

If you have feedback about the website, please contact us.