SHARE Negotiations Update: Still Negotiating about Raises

SHARE and UMass Memorial have not yet reached a contract agreement. The biggest remaining issue is raises. SHARE will continue negotiating until we can agree on better numbers. 

What a Good Raise Means for SHARE Members

In the last few weeks, the SHARE Negotiating Team has talked with lots of SHARE members about raises, at lunchtime information meetings and in one-to-one conversations. Here’s a summary of what we are hearing:
  • SHARE Members are Working Harder than Ever: “Do more with less” – we hear it all the time. Many SHARE members feel we’ve never worked harder in our lives than we are working right now. Slim staffing is the rule, not the exception. Some work systems require you to be a hero every day just to do a good job. Given how hard we are working, SHARE members feel our hard work should be recognized with good, solid raises.
  • Equity: When thinking about raises for SHARE folks, management needs to understand the impact of percentage raises for lower paid employees. For example, a 2% raise for the median SHARE member would add $19, before taxes, to each weekly paycheck if they work full time. For SHARE members who make less, that number would be as low as $12 per week, lowering their post-tax raise to single digits. Other unions have robust step raises in addition to their cost-of-living adjustments, moving people through their grade to max. Of course, SHARE members have families to care for, kids who want to go to college, and retirement to save for, just like our higher paid co-workers.
  • Raises are Recognition of our Value: In our current workplace culture, raises are a short-hand for the amount of respect a person or group receives. Many SHARE members, though certainly not all, feel their hard work is not appreciated by department leaders.  Our raise is a message from the hospital about whether our work matters.

Management’s Perspective: Financial Challenges in 2017

Our discussions with UMass Memorial management in negotiations about raises have been respectful. Management has made it clear that they are cautious about raises because of their concern about the hospitals’ finances in the coming year, and because they believe that SHARE members are already paid better than market rates.
  • Reimbursement rate cuts: UMass Memorial senior management recently announced that the non-union staff are getting a 2% bonus for fiscal year 2017, with no raise to their base salaries for now. The memo that described the bonus talks about the financial challenges of about $20 million in Medicaid cuts announced in August by the Baker administration. FY17 will also see cuts to Medicare reimbursements.
  • Epic: UMass Memorial is scheduled to pay $60 million for the Epic software system in FY17. Our hospitals have a huge amount riding on the new Epic system – not just the money. SHARE members often talk about how difficult the current collection of computer systems makes our jobs. We all hope that Epic will make many people’s jobs easier.
  • The “market:” UMass Memorial says that SHARE members are paid more than employees who work for other hospitals. We know that SHARE members are not at the bottom of the local healthcare salary market. SHARE has worked hard over the last 19 years to bring these jobs – PCAs, secretaries, techs, billers, etc. – into the middle class. This is honorable work, and increasingly hard work – and work that our hospitals can’t function without. We deserve to be able to achieve middle class aspirations, like buying a modest house, and sending our kids to college.

Value Add: Raises and How SHARE Can Contribute to Improving Quality

SHARE is offering to partner with UMass Memorial on the hospitals’ priorities of quality and employee engagement. This commitment from the SHARE leaders and members cannot be paired with the lowest raises SHARE members have ever gotten. The current raise structure for SHARE members should be retained, so that SHARE members both keep up with inflation and get credit at least equal to new hires for our years of experience.
  • Unit-Based Teams: Many SHARE members want to be deeply involved in fixing problems in our departments – both to improve care, and to make our jobs easier and more rewarding. The SHARE Negotiating Team has proposed unit-based teams (UBTs) as a way to make Dr. Dickson’s motto of “Best Place to Give Care, Best Place to Get Care” become a reality. Our model is the Kaiser Permanente Labor Management Partnership and their UBTs. 

Unit-based Teams have improved the day-to-day experience of the union members at Kaiser. Kaiser management has found that the return on investment from the employees’ participation is so great that they are committing more and more resources to the Partnership’s work. 
We believe that UMass Memorial can’t achieve the quality of care to which senior leadership aspires without the full participation of SHARE members. The “value add” is substantial. 

  • Lobbying against Medicaid cuts: We understand that reimbursement rates have a big effect on the hospitals’ budget. SHARE has offered to help with lobbying about Medicaid funding cuts. We all want UMass Memorial to get reimbursed as much as possible for the care we provide.

Looking Forward

We are confident that SHARE and UMass Memorial will find a mutually agreeable settlement to the raises question. However, we cannot predict how long that will take. We will negotiate for our raise to be retroactive to October 1st, unless we can negotiate a different solution that is better for SHARE members.

We know that this period of waiting and not knowing can be stressful for SHARE members. The SHARE Negotiating Team will continue to inform you about what’s happening at the bargaining table, and to listen carefully to what you think about it. Thanks to everyone for paying attention, reading the SHARE blog, making time to talk face-to-face, and coming to meetings and events. We may need your help to move this forward – we’ll be in touch.

The SHARE Negotiating Team

Sandy Alafberg, Billing

Nancy Bickford, West 3

Sheldon Brown, Accounts Receivable

LeDean Buzzell, Pediatrics Administration

Debbie Clark, Admissions Unit

Kirk Davis, SHARE

Debbie Engvall, SHARE

Will Erickson, SHARE

Kathy Girouard, Cardiac Cath Lab

Jay Hagan, Cat Scan

Carol Hehir, SHARE

Jana Hollingsworth, SHARE

Deb Largesse, SHARE

Bobbi-Jo Lewis, SHARE

Larry Madden, Central Scheduling

Joel Masley, Respiratory Therapy

Sharon Pichierri, Orthopedics Clinic

Maddy Popkin, SHARE

Elisabeth Szanto, SHARE

Janet Wilder, SHARE