Tuesday, November 12, 2013

SHARE Prepares for Possible Layoffs

As communications from UMass Memorial CEO Dr. Eric Dickson and President Patrick Muldoon make clear, there are changes coming for our hospitals, probably including layoffs. Programs that aren't making money may shrink or close, and technology is eliminating the need for some jobs. SHARE is preparing to help members with whatever is coming.

Do You Want to Volunteer to be Laid-Off?

Whenever there is a layoff, SHARE Reps work to help our members find other jobs, either in an open position or by "swapping" with someone who volunteers to be laid off. If we can find the right match for a swap, then person who was going to be laid off takes the volunteer's job. The volunteer gets the SHARE layoff benefits:
  • Severance (one week of pay for each full year that you've worked here, minimum 2 weeks, maximum 8 weeks)
  • Earned time/vacation time paid out weekly so that you stay on UMass Memorial health insurance until your time is used up
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Access to the SHARE training fund (up to $1500 per semester for 2 semesters with a possibility of an additional semester)
If you would like to know more about what volunteering for layoff might mean for your, please call the SHARE office. Leave a message for Carol -- 508-929-4020 x17.

How Layoffs Work in SHARE

Our contract says, "SHARE and UMass Memorial agree that we will do everything possible to avoid lay-offs. In health care today, change is the prominent feature of the landscape. By making this agreement about work security, our goal is to find alternatives to lay-offs whenever possible, and when a lay-off must occur to provide help and support to the employee in finding a comparable position."

UMass Memorial notifies SHARE about the possible layoffs ahead of time and SHARE and UMass Memorial meet to try to find an alternative to the layoffs. If there is no alternative, the SHARE member gets 30-60 days notice ahead of the layoff date and becomes a "work security candidate." 

Layoffs are done by seniority. UMass Memorial identifies the department or cost center and title where they need to cut a position, and the least senior person gets the layoff (unless there's a volunteer in the department).

During the notice period, SHARE works with the work security candidate to help them find a job (if they want one). Work security candidates have hiring preference over other internal applicants for internal jobs, and access to the layoff swaps. SHARE reps help provide information about unemployment, and outside job opportunities and resources.

To see the full SHARE and UMass Memorial contract section on Layoffs and Work Security, click here. If you have questions, call the SHARE office at 508-929-4020. If you get the answering machine, press 10 to leave a message on the general voicemail.

Raising the Minimum Wage: For our Families and our Community

Around the country, people are working to raise the minimum wage. California and New Jersey just voted to raise their minimum wages, and there's an effort to raise the federal minimum wage. SHARE is working with other unions, churches and faith organizations, and community groups to raise the minimum wage in Massachusetts. If we get enough signatures on petitions, the question will be on the ballot in November 2014 for voters to decide. The question would raise the minimum wage to $10.50 over a few years, and minimum wage would go up with inflation after that.

Everyone in SHARE makes more than $8.00 per hour, the Massachusetts minimum wage.  Raising the minimum wage would not directly affect SHARE members. However, it's still good for us and for our communities:
  • Many of us have children, friends and neighbors making minimum wage -- we're doing this for them.
  • Many economists say raising the minimum wage helps the economy because regular people have more money to spend.
  • A rising tide lifts all boats: When the minimum wage increases, people making more than minimum tend to get raises too. That would be a big change from the "race to the bottom" we've seen recently, with employers around the state and the country focusing on cutting wages, pensions, and healthcare, which makes our contract negotiations more difficult.
  • It's just keeping up with inflation: The minimum wage of $1.60 an hour in 1968 would be $10.50 today if it had kept up with inflation. The Massachusetts minimum wage has been stuck at $8 since 2008 -- that's five years without a raise for those folks, while costs for the basics keep going up, as we all know.

We Need Your Signature!
You can add your name to the petition to get the minimum wage question on the ballot by stopping by:

  • Tuesday, November 12th, 12-1:30, University Cafeteria -- We'll be at a table to the left. Look for the Raise Up Massachusetts sign.
  • Thursday, November 14th, 12-1pm, Memorial 1 conference room, toward the ED from the cafeteria 
  • Or email us, and we'll bring a petition to you to sign this week: share.comment@theshareunion.org

For more information about the effort, see Raise Up Massachusetts.