Friday, August 10, 2012

Signature Poster in Support of Our Contract

Our union's negotiating team is currently at work on the next SHARE contract. We are asking you to join thousands of other SHARE members here at UMass Memorial in adding your signature to a poster that will contain the language at the bottom of this post.

You may have seen a similar poster in the hospital from a few years ago, one that looks like this------>

All those tiny signatures represent over 2,000 SHARE members standing together for a strong contract. It's a powerful message.

When we have enough signatures this time, we will print copies of the poster for members to hang in their workplaces as a way of demonstrating their strong support for the negotiating team and their goals.

UMass Memorial Works Because We Do

We are the members of SHARE at UMass Memorial Medical Center. We enter our contract negotiations with UMass Memorial in good faith, ready to find creative solutions to difficult problems.

We Believe in our Future. We are committed to the success of our hospitals and to providing high quality, caring, and affordable healthcare to our families, our friends and our communities in Central Massachusetts. We know that our hospital will have to change to continue to provide excellent care and stay financially healthy.

We Believe in Participation. We are committed to having a voice in charting a future course for our hospitals. Our knowledge and experience helps improve patient care when we are involved in decision-making.

We Believe in Economic Fairness. UMass Memorial needs to cut costs, not shift costs onto employees who can’t afford it. No group should be asked to pay more than they can. Our paid time off, health insurance, pensions and work security help people move into and stay in the middle class. When our lives are stable, we can take better care of our patients.

We Will Stick Together, through our union, to move forward. Our patients, our families, and our community are depending on us.

Pro-Patient • Pro-Union

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What's Happening in Contract Negotiations? August Information Meetings

Contract negotiations may move extremely quickly this time -- come find out why, and put in your two cents about health insurance, earned time, raises, the pension, and job security.  The SHARE Negotiating Team wants you to know what's going on, and we want your thoughts. (For more info, see post below.) Please come to a SHARE Information meeting.

Location                 Time                                              Room

Morgan                8/13 11:30-1:30                      3rd Floor Conference Room
University            8/14 11:30-1:30                       Benedict EA3-101
CBO                    8/15 12:00-2:00                       4th Floor Conference Room
Memorial              8/17 11:30-1:30                     Memorial 1 Conference Room
Farmhouse            8/21 12:00-1:00                     Basement Conference Room
Biotech III              8/21 11-12:30                        Seminar Room
WBC                    8/22 12:00-2:00                      Willow Conference Room 2nd Flr
Tri-River               8/27 11:30-1:30                     Community Room
Hahnemann           8/28 12:00-1:30                     2nd Floor Conference Room
ACC                     8/28 11:30-1:30                      4th Floor Conf Room, 4-0001

We will add more locations to this list as we are able to schedule them. In September, we will have another complete round of Information Meetings. Please contact the SHARE office if you would like a meeting in your location, and keep your eye on the blog for additional information.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Contract Negotiations and More

We're back in Contract Negotiations. The extension we agreed upon earlier this year runs through September 30th. That was awfully quick, wasn't it?

Obviously, there's a lot to say about all of this, and about all of the other goings-on. We're working on a more thorough and thoughtful information letter. And we are planning a series of Information Meetings. In addition to talking about the Contract, we will provide updates about the pension committee, the most recent past layoffs, the sale of the Home Health and Hospice facility and the Labs, the SHARE Signature Poster project, and more.

In the interest of making sure that everyone has some basic information, and knows how to get more, here's the first in a series of blog posts about Contract Negotiations.

SHARE has had two Negotiation Sessions with UMass Memorial management so far. The SHARE negotiation team is made up of the SHARE Officers and Executive Board and the SHARE Organizing Staff. We have been meeting with the hospital's management team, headed by Joe Fournier in Labor Relations, and Walter Hunter, an outside attorney.

In the first negotiating session, both teams introduced themselves. There are some new faces on the management team, and we are still getting to know each other. We got quickly down-to-business, as the management team made clear that they have a strong interest in settling a new contract quickly. Once we come to an agreement on the pension, even though nothing would change for us until 2017, the hospital can start counting savings on their balance sheet. If we settle before the end of this fiscal year, they can count savings in this fiscal year. So the timing matters a lot to them.

The SHARE team made clear that it has a number of important issues that need to be addressed, and spent time outlining these issues. The management team described the hospital's need to cut costs, the SHARE team emphasized that the vast majority of our members tell us that their biggest concerns include wages, benefits--especially health insurance, earned time, and the pension--and job security.

The second negotiation session opened with a presentation from UMMMC's Chief Financial Officer, Therese Day. She described the biggest negative economic impacts on the hospital (declining reimbursement rates, tiering by health insurance providers, declining interest rates, and the rising costs of providing healthcare). The management team asserted that healthcare is changing, and that the kind of change is different than anything we've seen before, in that the change involves a number of external forces over which the hospital has little or no control.

To finish negotiating with the hospital by the end of August, we have to figure out what to do with all the issues. Some of the issues are more time-sensitive, and others will require more time and energy than will be available before the contract deadline. In an effort to deal with this problem, we have begun to negotiate the idea of an ongoing Labor-Management Committee that could oversee jointly-made solutions. Knowing that we have a more reliable structure for dealing with ongoing issues, the negotiating team will be able to focus its attention on the topics that must necessarily be addressed at the negotiating table, including the pension, benefits, raises, and job security.

If the SHARE negotiating team can reach a tentative agreement with the hospital negotiating team by the end of August, then we will get the proposal to SHARE members to read, have another round of information meetings, and hold a vote before the end of September. That is a tight schedule, but it is possible. And both sides are highly motivated.

We'll keep posting updates on the blog, in newsletters, and at the upcoming Information Meetings. More to come . . .