Today at negotiations we presented the Union with a more detailed description of many of our proposals, including our proposed competitive new wage scale and wage program and our proposal for reducing retirement plan costs. Since many of the issues will be difficult to address, we wanted to put the details on the table as early as possible. Here are some of the areas where we furnished expanded details:
- Every nurse would be placed into the appropriate steps on a new scale.
- Wages would then be frozen at those levels for the first year. Step increases that were held in Year One would be paid in Year Two.
- Pay premiums exceeding statutory overtime would be eliminated, including weekend rates, double-back, extra days, pull pay, and contractual overtime.
- There would be changes in holiday and vacation scheduling to help ensure core staffing.
We provided details on our proposed “patient experience of care” bonus and updated our ranking on nurse communications and staff responsiveness.
We informed the Union that every hospital is now being rated based on the patient’s “experience of care,” and that about 90% of hospitals surveyed last year did better than Crozer.
The Union presented its version of the economic situation. The Union referenced the health system’s positive margin in fiscal year 2013. As reported, the fact is that the health system has endured a difficult year in FY 2014, including more than $14 million in operating losses at Crozer alone.
The Union also presented a proposal to take nurses out of the Defined Contribution Plan and put them into the Defined Benefit Plan, which is now only 74% funded.
Our next bargaining session is scheduled for April 24. We hope the Union comes prepared to help us make progress in addressing the financial challenges faced by the Medical Center.
Today was our first bargaining session of 2014 with CCNA/PASNAP.
After the customary discussion of ground rules, we presented the Union committee with an comprehensive overview of our initial proposals for your new contract. We believe we needed to deliver our proposals as soon as possible for one simple reason: Crozer-Chester Medical Center faces severe and urgent financial challenges, and we have asked the Union and our nurses to help us overcome them.
The Medical Center is facing a “new reality.” We have shared with you many of the factors that led to a restructuring and significant reduction in force in February, including a fiscal year loss for CCMC alone that has now exceeded $14,000,000. We remain committed to our mission of improving the health of those we serve, so we tried to minimize the impact of reductions on nurses and others at the bedside. But in today’s session, we told the Union we cannot continue costly pay practices and certain legacy benefit programs when volumes and payments are declining.
Our proposals included a competitive wage scale that is comparable to that of Temple – our closest competitor, where nurses are also represented by PASNAP. We also proposed to discontinue costly pay premiums that exceed legal requirements, such as double time for the first shift of overtime. In addition, we proposed to end certain extraordinarily costly and unsustainable benefit programs, such as the Defined Benefit (DB) Pension Plan, for which the Hospital’s contributions are expected to climb to $65 million a year within three years. Thus, we have proposed to freeze the DB Plan by the end of this year. Vested participants would keep all benefits accrued up through December 31, 2014, but no new benefits would accrue after that date. In 2015, participants would go into the Defined Contribution Plan. Upon retirement, they would collect from both retirement plans.
We also have asked our nurses to take a more active role in improving our patient experience of care. We proposed to the Union a substantial bonus for 2016 if our nurses collectively achieve a 75 percentile rating based on patient surveys in 2015.
These are some of our initial proposals. We are committed to bargain in good faith with the Union. This means we will consider and discuss reasonable proposals or counterproposals from the Union. But at the same time, we told the Union we believe some of our proposals must be part of any agreement if we hope to continue meeting our mission to care for the community we serve.
We will continue providing you with information concerning the negotiations after each bargaining session. Our next bargaining session is scheduled for April 14.