Good morning! And happy Martin Luther King Day! In 2016, we’re making some changes to our weekly blogging experiment, formerly “Five Tidbit Friday.” We’ll continue to collect an array of news items, but we’ll be posting them, in various quantities, at the beginning of the week. This week, we’ve got a nice batch, beginning with . . .
28th REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. TRIBUTE at UMass CELEBRATES SERVICE
"Life's most persistent and urgent question is," asserted Dr. Martin Luther King, "'What are you doing for others?'" On this MLK Day holiday, we remember Dr. King, and renew our thinking on this persistent and urgent question.
All members of the UMass community have been invited to this year's tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, where Rev. Liz Walker, pastor of Roxbury Presbyterian Church and the first black woman to co-anchor a newscast in Boston, will be delivering the keynote address on the subject of service. RSVP or email DIO@umassmed.edu to register for the event, taking place on Wednesday, Jan. 20, from noon to 1 p.m. in the Faculty Conference Room on the University campus, with lunch available at 11:30 a.m.
An ENGLISH HOSPITAL SAVED by BEAUTY, CREATIVITY, and COLLECTIVE ACTION
Near the end of last year, and “across the pond,” as they say, hospital workers and community members responded with real inspiration to a political decision that would have shut down Lewisham and Greenwich Hospital in southeast London. Members of the National Health Service choir there recorded and released "A Bridge over You," a mashup of "Bridge over Troubled Water" by Simon & Garfunkel, and Coldplay’s “Fix You.” The song became the centerpiece of a campaign to save the hospital.
As a result, the English came out in support of their healthcare workers. “A Bridge over You” reached number one on the UK singles chart at Christmas 2015, selling more than 127,000 copies. (Justin Bieber, whose song “Love Yourself” was expected to be number one on the charts during the spike in record sales at Christmas, even tweeted his support for the cause.)
The song, the singers, and the video of these caregivers with their patients is quite an inspiration. Give it a listen?
LITTLE KNOWN FACTS about MARTIN LUTHER KING
The civil rights leader we celebrate today was born Michael King Jr. on January 15, 1929. In 1934, however, his father, a pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, traveled to Germany and became inspired by the Protestant Reformation leader Martin Luther. As a result, King Sr. changed his own name as well as that of his 5-year-old son. And did you know that the young Martin Luther Jr. entered college at age fifteen?
BIG BROTHER and the WARMTH-DETECTORS
There’s more interesting work-related news from the UK this week. Buzzfeed recently reported that, “The Daily Telegraph has installed devices to monitor whether journalists are at their desks.” These small boxes were mounted beneath the employees’ desks, and detected heat and motion. A follow-up in the Huffington Post stated that outcry about the devices led the company to remove them the same day they were installed. That article, entitled “Why Bosses Should Snoop on Employees Less,” goes on to explain:
. . . increasing surveillance to boost productivity is much different from increasing surveillance to prevent theft, and it's unclear if it does much beyond stressing employees out. Workplace stress can cost companies a few thousand dollars per worker every year through a combination in absenteeism and disability claims, multiple studies have found -- and that doesn't even cover any declines in productivity. And it's pretty clear employees find surveillance stressful.
Although SHARE has never come across warmth-detectors, UMass Memorial does use some technology to keep track of productivity. We are keeping an eye on this trend. Let us know if something new comes up in your area.
And while we’re on the subject, we encourage SHARE members to be cautious. Here in the US, an employer is entitled to monitor any communication activity on a company-owned system. And they can legally discipline you for anything you send that is illegal or out-of-line with their policies.
HAS OBAMA BEEN READING the SHARE HOSPITAL CONTRACT?
In the most recent SHARE Hospital contract negotiations, we implemented new language, designed to allow laid-off SHARE members to retain their pay rate if they cannot find another SHARE job that pays as well, if they must instead take a job in a lower pay grade. Although the language hasn’t worked as an automatic fix, it has helped SHARE members retain their standard of living. According to Politico, it appears that President Obama has been developing a similar idea, “In Tuesday's State of the Union address President Barack Obama offered a policy fix for workers who lose their jobs and end up in worse-paying ones: wage insurance. If an American worker takes a job that pays less than the one that vanished, ‘there should be a system of wage insurance in place so that he can still pay his bills,’ the president said.”
To those of you who have the holiday off this year, have a wonderful and meaningful day. To those of you who will be clocked-in, thank you for the work you will be doing on this day in service of the missions of our hospital and university. Hope you all had a wonderful weekend, and that things are off to a very good start for you this week. See you here next time . . .