November 2017

Hospital Workers Reject Contract Proposal from Methodist Medical Center!

MMC_Rally2017Members of SEIU Local 205 have voted to reject Methodist Medical Center’s contract proposal. The vote came after the hospital gave the union its final proposal last Friday. The current contract expired October 10th but had been extended through November 15th by mutual agreement.

Among the key issues separating the parties were the union’s goal of maintaining safe staffing levels and reasonable working hours; Methodist’s plan to slash wages for new employees; and the union’s call for affordable health insurance on par with other Covenant facilities.

Union members were primarily concerned about what Methodist’s proposal for lower wages would mean for patient care.

“We regularly get ‘short staffing reports’ from nurses noting that our established patient to staff ratios have been exceeded,” said Sarah Englehardt, a licensed practical nurse. “Having enough staff to provide the best care is just common sense.”

“Methodist claims they have a hard time recruiting nurses now, so we can’t see how cutting pay will make that easier”, said Linda Mabry, a registered nurse.

“This was not just about the current workforce at Methodist, but also the next generation of MMC workers,” said Dustin Whalen, unit secretary. “Methodist’s wage proposal would cut incoming nurses’ pay by up to $5.00/hr. Other new employees would face similar cuts. Some staff would start at less than $10.00/hr.”

Union members had already voted to authorize their bargaining committee to give the hospital a notice of intent to strike if an agreement could not be reached. Under federal labor law, the Union must give the hospital ten days’ notice before striking.

SEIU officials will be reaching out to the hospital about getting back to the bargaining table in order to avoid a strike. “We are ready and willing to reach an agreement, but it has to be one that protects our patients, respects our community, and meets our needs,” concluded Sondra Bryant, registered nurse. “But make no mistake – our members are more united and determined than we have seen in years.”

SEIU has represented employees at the Oak Ridge acute care hospital since 1966. Currently there are over 800 employees covered by the union contract.

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Surprise Announcement Leads to Uncertain Future for Nashville General Hospital!

Union leaders confront Mayor Megan Barry after the surprise announcement from Meharry & HCA that could lead to cuts in jobs and patient services at General Hospital.

Union leaders confront Mayor Megan Barry after the surprise announcement from Meharry & HCA that could lead to cuts in jobs and patient services at General Hospital.

With no warning to SEIU, to council members, or to hospital officials, Meharry and HCA executives along with Mayor Megan Barry announced a plan right before Veterans Day weekend which will have a major impact on General Hospital staff and the services the hospital provides to patients in the Nashville community.

According to various news reports, Meharry Medical College, which has been a long time partner with General, will begin a new merger with Southern Hills hospital, which will lead to phasing out General’s inpatient services. This move will affect not just jobs at General Hospital, but also indigent care for many of Nashville’s most economically disadvantaged citizens.

The Tennessean, Nashville Public Radio, and NewsChannel 5 have coverage of the press conference, but there are still some major questions that remain. These questions will continue to be asked by SEIU and our partners in the community and elected officials.

SEIU Local 205 has issued the following statement to all General Hospital employees:

“Our Union will be meeting shortly with the Barry administration to get more details on what their plans are and what they think the future of General looks like. We will be educating and organizing our partners in the community and in politics to gather allies to make sure our jobs and services are protected. We will be looking out for our MEMBERS first. Employees who have shown a commitment to sticking together and building a union are going to be the ones we fight hardest for. We encourage all staff to stay calm, to talk to your Union Steward to get news updates, and do not make any drastic moves towards your career until we have more information. Also, TALK to your family, friends, co-workers, and preachers about how important General is to us and the community we serve.”

For more information, follow Local 205’s Facebook page or contact the Union office at 615-227-5070.

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Hospital Workers Picket Methodist Medical Center as Contract Deadline Looms

MMC_Picket2017Members of SEIU Local 205 picketed Methodist Medical Center in Oak Ridge this week as an extended labor agreement is set to expire on November 15. The actions come in the wake of a vote taken by union members to authorize the bargaining committee to give the hospital a notice of intent to strike if an agreement cannot be reached.

“We hope it doesn’t come down to a strike, but we are united and we’re prepared to do whatever it takes to get a reasonable agreement with the hospital,” said Sondra Bryant, a registered nurse and member of the Union’s bargaining team.

“This is about our patients and our community, and not just about us,” said Linda Mabry, a registered nurse. “Patient care is always at the top of our agenda, whether it is maintaining adequate staffing levels or making sure employees are rested and alert. Patient care and safety should be non-negotiable, but we’re not sure the hospital sees it that way.”

The union contract covering over 800 employees expired on October 10th but was extended to November 15th. The acute care hospital is part of the Covenant hospital chain. SEIU has represented employees at Methodist since 1966. The key issues separating the parties include:

  • The Union’s commitment to maintaining safe staffing levels and reasonable working hours for all employees;
  • Methodist’s plan to slash wages for new employees;
  • The Union’s call for quality, affordable health insurance which is on par with other Covenant facilities.

“We feel it is important that the public know what is going on at Methodist and the community support has been incredible,” said Dustin Whalen, a unit secretary at the hospital. “Methodist’s proposal to cut wages would hurt our community. These are good jobs that allow us to provide for our families and stimulate economic activity in the area and we can’t see taking this away from our future co-workers,” Whalen said.

Methodist proposes to hire new employees at between 15% to 20% below current starting pay. Under MMC’s proposal, some new employees would start at $5.00/hr. less and some employees would be hired for under $10.00 an hour.

“We are ready to sit down and hammer out a contract that is reasonable and fair. We hope MMC is too,” said Brad Rayson, president of SEIU Local 205.

Read the story at Oak Ridge Today >>

Read the story in The Oak Ridger >>

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