February 2016

Nashville Library Employees Push Back (and Win) Against “Open Range” Pay Proposal!

SEIU members including Bryan Jones speak out against the open range expansion being proposed by Metro H.R.

SEIU members including Bryan Jones speak out against the open range expansion being proposed by Metro H.R.

Using staff at Nashville Public Library as a test case, SEIU asked city employees what they thought about Metro’s proposal to expand Open Range (also known as “merit pay”) in their new pay plan proposal.

The answer was a resounding “NO!” among those who would be affected.

In an informal survey conducted by librarian and union bargaining committee member Julie Burns, there were 21 responses and 20 of them were against the Open Range proposal.

In a separate petition drive among those who would be affected by the proposal, the Union got 33 signatures. “I was surprised and pleased that everyone who was asked to sign the petition opposing Open Range did so,” said Bryan Jones, a librarian who helped conduct the petition drive.

At a staff meeting in the Main library branch conducted by HR officials, not one employee spoke in support of Open Range and all comments were in opposition. (Listen to the meeting here).

The Civil Service Commission will continue to debate the entire pay plan proposal and is expected to vote on it in April.

UPDATE (April 12, 2016): Due to the activism and solidarity of library workers and SEIU’s efforts, Metro has removed the librarians from the open range expansion in their pay plan proposal! The plan which passed the Civil Service Commission leaves all librarians in the traditional stepped pay plan.

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Metro Government & Local 205 Extend Labor Agreement

The Metro Bargaining Committee. From l-r: Rick Beasley, Julie Burns, Greg Hanserd, Trina Jordan, Daryl Hawkins, Robert Gilmer.

The Metro Bargaining Committee. From l-r: Rick Beasley, Julie Burns, Greg Hanserd, Trina Jordan, Daryl Hawkins, Robert Gilmer.

After multiple meet-and-confer sessions between Metro officials and the union’s Bargaining Committee, the Civil Service Commission approved a six-month extension of the current Memorandum of Understanding between the city of Nashville and Local 205. The agreement, among other things, ensures that SEIU continue to represent the best interests of General Government employees.

The union will be working on getting a more comprehensive agreement later in the year and we encourage members who work in the Metro General Government departments to attend the monthly chapter meetings (third Tuesday at 5:00 pm) to learn more about the process and the issues at stake for city employees.

 

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SEIU Supports Most (But Not All) Of the New Pay Plan Proposal for Metro Employees

At the February meeting of the Metro Civil Service Commission, representatives from SEIU Local 205 spoke at the public hearing on a new pay plan being proposed by the Human Resources department. The new pay plan affects thousands of city employees across dozens of General Government departments and was developed as the result of the Deloitte pay study conducted in 2014-2015, which SEIU participated in at several key stages.

The proposed pay plan for Metro General Government employees includes many improvements that Local 205 has been loudly advocating for over the last several years. Among other things, there are real pay increases for thousands of employees in the SR and TG classifications. The Union also supports the reclassification and upgrades for corrections officers at the DCSO and upgrades for 911 staff at the Emergency Communications Center.

One part of the current proposal that SEIU does not support is an expansion of open range classifications across Metro. Based on academic research and from feedback the Union got from Metro employees, adding more open range classifications to the pay plan does not help current employees or improve services to the public. The Union also raised concerns about the methodology of some of Deloitte’s findings in the pay study for the ECC as well as a recent effort by the Health Department to resist upgrades for some of its staff.

Click HERE to see SEIU’s presentation about the proposed Metro pay plan!

“Most of the proposals in this pay plan proposal gets a thumbs-up from our members,” said Brad Rayson, president of Local 205. “Salary increases for the lower pay grades are a long-time coming after the sacrifices city employees made during the Great Recession. But there are still some concerns we would like to see addressed and we hope that the Civil Service Commission takes action on those.”

SEIU had been involved in the pay plan process from the very beginning. Union members across the departments wrote up proposals for certain positions to be reviewed and upgraded and that information was submitted to both Deloitte and to Metro. Many of the Union’s recommendations were supported by the pay study as early as last year when an extra 3% pay increase was implemented for the benchmarked positions. The Union’s bargaining committee and staff representatives met multiple times throughout the development of the pay plan proposals as well and employees have continued to have a pipeline to information and updates on the process through SEIU at monthly chapter meetings and even special called meetings.

The Civil Service Commission will continue to review the pay plan proposal and is expected to vote on some kind of modified proposal at their next meeting on March 8. Whatever is approved by the Commission will then proceed to council as legislation and the new plan could be enacted early enough to take effect as part of this year’s city budget.

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Council Approves Emergency Funding for General Hospital

Thanks to efforts by SEIU members and other community groups, the Metro Council unanimously approved an emergency request for funding at General Hospital in Nashville.

Nashville’s safety net hospital continues to struggle as its core mission is to provide care to many patients who are uninsured or underinsured. According to a story by Nashville Public Radio

…[General Hospital has] a shortfall because of some surprises. Those include getting dinged by Joint Commission inspectors on patient safety and infection control — problems that have demanded spending to get fixes in motion.

They also want to continue with technology changes and creation of an outpatient pharmacy. Combined, several hospital maneuvers have reduced the daily cost of treating a patient 11 percent between 2014 and 2016, according to the hospital.

But they’re still struggling to pay bills on time to vendors, lagging behind industry standards.

And at one point this summer, the hospital had about two days’ worth of operating cash on hand, making it tough to even pay its employees.

Union officials and members were active behind the scenes and reached out to share their concerns with elected officials throughout the funding situation. SEIU will continue to work with hospital and city officials to find constructive ways to strengthen funding at General in order to protect employee pay and patient care.

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