[SPECIAL NOTE: Late this afternoon UNMH Management sent an email to all employees regarding THEIR assessment relative to negotiations. They are certainly entitled to their own fantasies, however, until long overdue compensation improvements are agreed to by both parties, we have much more work to do at the bargaining table – and it’s time that the public gets informed along the way at how unfair UNMH has treated its employees. See below for details.]
The Following Statement from District 1199 NM of the National Union of Hospital and Healthcare Employees will be delivered tomorrow morning, Wednesday, June 12, 2019, at about 8:00 AM at UNM Hospital.
The specific venue is located on the sidewalk at along Lomas Boulevard at entrance to UNM Hospital near Subway Sandwich Shop (at 2211 Lomas Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87106 - Between Bus Stop and NON-EMERGENCY Entrance to Hospital).
Statement from District 1199 NM, President Sharon Argenbright
The vast majority of employees of the University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) are extremely angry with the management, the executive leadership and the governing bodies of UNMH.
The UNMH management team is currently negotiating with our union for a new contract.
And while we are here today to express our disappointment and anger, let us make this plain as the sunrise – we are still negotiating with them.
But what they have offered, after seven months, is continued disregard for the financial well-being of their direct caregiving and support staff employees.
We are professionals, so it is with great hesitation and regret that we would even consider stating the following, but nevertheless we need to say it:
We are really pissed off at the lack of respect the leaders of this hospital continue to show through their indifference to the financial well-being of the direct-care giving staff and support employees of their hospital.
While the leadership and governing body recognizes that, in order to keep good and dedicated leaders, it needs to provide competitive compensation for its executives, it has failed to provide the same for the thousands of people who are the backbone of the hospital.
District 1199 NM, represents more than 5,000 of these employees, and we are here this morning to kick off a series of activities and communications that express clearly to the public that employees ‘are mad as hell, and they are not going to be quiet anymore!’
All employees need to be treated fairly.
The Hospital Board of Trustees, and the Chancellor of the Health Sciences Center provided a bountiful contract for the CEO of UNMH, including but not limited to the following:
An annual Base Salary of $620,000.
A potential 25% additional cash compensation above her $620,000 Base Salary - that could be as high as $155,000.
A $25,000 Moving Allowance exempt from some of the regulations placed on others by UNMH Human Resources Policy.
Eligible (with approval of the Chancellor of Health Sciences and availability of funds) for annual salary increases but guaranteed no decreases in base salary.
CEO allowed to take time off with pay to move for up to a week, beyond the limits of UNMH annual leave policies for other employees. (Approximate value of $11,900.00)
UNMH provided cell phone and travelling computer or similar device at no cost.
In addition to extra benefits, the CEO is entitled to all normal fringe benefits offered to other UNMH Employees.
In contrast, the lowest paid employees at UNMH will make the equivalent of about $5.90 a week more with the ridiculous 1.4% raise being offered by UNMH to many housekeepers and patient techs.
A mid-level paid employee at the hospital will make about $16.15 a week more with the ridiculous 1.4% raise.
Yes, we understand the BOSS gets more, and a lot more. However, UNMH can and must do better for the people who complete the mission of care expected from a University hospital.
Why Informational Pickets and Appearances before Public Bodies?
By law, employees of the University hospital are not allowed to withhold their labor in a dispute over wages - We are prohibited from striking, unlike the employees of most other hospitals in New Mexico.
But we still have our Constitutional right of Free Expression.
And throughout the Summer months, until we get fairly treated by the hospital leadership, we will be rolling out weekly actions to let the people of New Mexico know that the leaders choose to ignore our plight.
In an unprecedented move action, the UNM Board of Regents cancelled their regularly scheduled June meeting – was it just coincidental that their notice of cancellation came within a day or so after Employees announced they were going to picket and take other public actions?
UNMH employees are caregivers to New Mexicans from all four corners of the state, and especially to many of the almost 900,000 people of greater Albuquerque.
Whether an employee is a technician, administering respiratory care or maybe drawing blood; or whether they are a nurse in the emergency rooms, labor and delivery, the general hospital, or any of the specialty units; or whether they are a housekeeper making sure a patient’s room is clean and has fresh bed linens; or whether they are a food specialist, pharmacist, transporter, maintenance or plant operator - all of the employees of UNMH are dedicated to the patients and their families who enter this hospital.
They have shown respect, hard work and love for the people in their charge.
Unfortunately, for the past ten or so years, the leadership of the hospital and its governing bodies have not provided the same kind of respect to the employees who carry out the mission of the state’s only Teaching Hospital and only Level One Trauma hospital.
For six of the last ten years UNMH employees received no cost of living increase – for four of those years no raise at all. And for much of the rest of that time what they did receive was never offset the increasing cost of living for their families.
AS we indicated earlier, after seven months of meetings, the best they have offered, not only doesn’t meet cost of living issues, it teeters on the edge of going backwards.
Management has offered a 1.4% raise, along with a series of takebacks. When taken together, some employees would actually be making less.
Included among the takebacks: one that literally takes the food out of some workers’ mouths.
To offset the meager or non-existent pay raises of the past, the hospital offered a 30% cafeteria discount for employees. That discount is especially important to the lowest paid employees at the hospital – a meal at a cost they can barely afford given their low annual salaries.
Management first wanted to eliminate the discount entirely. When employees expressed their disbelief, management then offered to reduce it to 10%.
Employees cannot fiscally, nor emotionally, endure yet another losing year.
In the state’s budget, Governor Lujan Grisham and the Legislature provided a 4% raise for most state employees, and a 6% pay raise to teachers and judges.
That budget also included a huge boost to hospitals via increased Medicaid reimbursements – an additional $160 million. UNMH will share in those increases by at least a 5% gain its reimbursement formula.
The Governor also called out the Board of Regents in a recent editorial for failing to provide at least a 4% raise to University employees.
We know the hospital can afford to step up and pay its employees what is long overdue.
UNMH employees were denied sufficient pay raises over the past eight years, in part, because the previous Governor refused to properly fund Medicaid, forcing UNMH to ante- up more than $180 million in UNMH funds, to prop up the state of New Mexico’s match to the federal government for Medicaid.
Medicaid was a state government responsibility, not UNMH’s.
And while Governor Martinez demanded that money from UNMH, she gave away hundreds of millions in tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations.
Those millions, over those years, could have partially been used to fund fair employee pay raises – that is no longer necessary.
The State’s new Governor has stepped up to provide better funding.
So now is a good time to correct some of the unfairness forced on employees by the previous administration ... and UNMH has the financial resources to do so.
UNMH employees expect and deserve better leadership from the governing bodies and executives of UNMH.
They know that they have been short-changed for too many years on these two key compensation issues:
1. Fair annual cost of living salary increases; and
2. A revision of the current compensation structure (the subject of the June 2018 Memorandum of Understanding between UNM Hospitals and District 1199 NM), which is currently the focus of the Mercer Company’s study and which was to review issues such as:
Pay Structure Pay Practices Pay Equity
For going on ten years, loyal UNMH employees find themselves being paid less than new hires at the Hospital – something the Mercer study should be fixing.
UNMH did not even begin the actual Mercer study referred to in the MOU until late last year, despite there being an RFP issued for such a study dating back to January 2018.
The fact that this study is not yet completed has prevented any serious negotiation regarding the compensation structure in the current CBA negotiations, other than to come back to them once the study is complete.
The Weeks Ahead.
Over the next several weeks, as we continue to negotiate with UNMH management, we will be contacting Legislators, County Commissioners, Mayors, and City Councilors, seeking their support to encourage UNMH to do the right thing.
We will also be exercising our right to picket in front of public places, so the public will know how our employees have been treated.