September 23, 2014

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Union asks Mercy top management to take a pay cut

LORAIN — The union representing nurses and other staff at Mercy Regional Medical Center have asked the hospital’s top management to take a 5 percent pay cut to demonstrate “a serious commitment” to cost cutting.

The request was made during a meeting Monday between hospital management and the union representing nurses and other staff, according to Anthony Caldwell, spokesman for Service Employee International Union District 1199.

Union officials were told in the meeting that 18 jobs will be abolished while another 32 positions will see a reduction in hours.

Top leaders of the hospital have seen their wages frozen, but not cut.

“When you have someone in the position of managing a major health care system who makes $705,000 a year and other senior staff who each make well over $100,000 a year, it seems disingenuous to take a pay freeze at the same time you’re asking direct care providers and others to give up their jobs,” Caldwell said Tuesday.

The $705,000 figure Caldwell cited is the total salary and compensation package of Mercy CEO and President Edward Oley.

SEIU District 1199 asked for the 5 percent pay cut from the hospital system’s top management in hopes of seeing the money used to save some of the 18 jobs, Caldwell said.

A representative of the hospital’s management told union personnel she would take the pay cut request back to senior management for discussion, Caldwell said.

The union also asked for another meeting that would include Oley, who did not attend Monday’s session, Caldwell said.

“She said they (management) were willing to meet but no meeting has been agreed to yet,” Caldwell said.

Calls to Mercy Vice President of Strategy and Business Development Janis Yergan and Mercy spokeswoman LeeAnn Hastings were not returned.

According to a copy of a letter provided by Caldwell addressed to union officials from Jennifer Angle, Mercy’s manager of human resources, union positions to be eliminated include occupational health, surgical and phlebotomy secretaries, a home care case manager and care coordinators.

Most of the positions are held by registered nurses, according to the union.

Care coordinators work to obtain Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, and a 20 percent cut in that department may end up costing the hospital more in reimbursements, which will wipe out anticipated savings from the job cuts, Caldwell said.

“We feel the decisions made by management are not going to save the money they hope to save,” Caldwell said.

Reduction in hours will affect diabetic educators and office assistants, according to the Mercy letter.

The 18 job cuts announced last week are part of a larger cost-cutting plan by the hospital to address a $1.8 million reduction in 2013 Medicare reimbursements because of federal budget cuts, according to earlier statements by Yergan.

Another 16 positions that are not currently staffed also will be eliminated.

All job cuts and reductions in hours are to take effect 30 days after layoff notices were issued May 14, Caldwell said.

Pension benefits were cut for most nurses in November as part of a new three-year contract that followed contentious contract talks that included a threatened strike. And then 20 non-union workers were laid off last fall in response to shrinking Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements and shorter hospital stays.

Mercy provided nearly $29 million in uncompensated care in 2012, according to an earlier statement from Yergan.

Uncompensated care includes care provided to impoverished patients, community services and non-reimbursed Medicaid costs.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.


  • Joe Sandor

    Sort of disingenuous. The union strikes for more more money. The company says there isn’t more money. They agree anyhow. Now, the union wants its raise money to come from managers’ pay. Tough luck SEIU. You and your members chose the strike and pay increase. Now, live with the consequences.

    • RCSII

      Joe, the intent is to save jobs not seek raises.
      “SEIU District 1199 asked for the 5 percent pay cut from the hospital system’s top management in hopes of seeing the money used to save some of the 18 jobs, Caldwell said.”

      • Joe Sandor

        We are talking about the October 2012 contract negotiations where the union was told that there was no money, but they said they would strike if no raises. So, after the new contract, they were told there would probably be layoffs if they could not contribute to cost reductions. Of course, such negotiations are easily forgotten when layoffs loom.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Heathcote/100001047972414 Chris Heathcote

        5% of $700,000 is $35,000 that is not even enough for 1 RN. Then consider the fact that this is a large medical group across several states. Why would they think that they would be the ones that should get the money if there was a cut?

        • RCSII

          I’m not pro union but this Union certainly needs to be more aggressive with their negotiations. At least ask for 33% of the $700k and let Oily Eddie negotiate down. At 5% there is nothing to gain even from a symbolic perspective. His actions speak volumes when he failed to show up for such a critical meeting. He obviously doesn’t take this union seriously.