Another Victory for Resurrection Home Health Employees!

Over the years, Resurrection Home Health Services (RHHS) employees have displayed commitment, courage and a lot of patience in their struggle to win fairness on the job. Now, just a few months after they won their AFSCME union election, they have won once again– this time with a favorable decision by an Illinois Appellate Court.

Many Resurrection Home Health clinicians are paid a fee per visit, and only receive a “minimum salary” in the rare occasions that they perform so few visits that their fees don’t add up to the minimum. For nearly a decade, Resurrection Home Health Employees and AFSCME Council 31 have been fighting for a pay system that compensates them for the amount of work they actually do, and finally the long legal battle may be close to a conclusion.

In its finding, the Appellate Court overturned a lower court and held Resurrection’s pay structure did not meet the standards of the Illinois labor law because of the large gap between the “minimum salary” and clinicians’ actual wages. Additionally, the Court ruled Resurrection Employees’ eligibility for overtime must be re-examined.

While this is a significant win in favor of fair pay for Resurrection Employees, it’s not over yet. The Appellate Court ruling sends the case back to the Circuit Court of Cook County for a new opinion. RHHS employees call on Resurrection to accept the judgment of the Court and stop filing appeals to delay the process.

While it has been a long fight, this is another example of how by coming together and working with AFSCME, Resurrection Employees can do better! And RHHS employees know that in the long run the best way to ensure fair pay and rights at work is to build a strong union through AFSCME.

Update: RHHS Employees Prepare for Negotiate First Contract

For the past few months, Resurrection Home Health employees have been busy preparing to negotiate their first AFSCME contract. Shortly after their victory in August, RHHS professionals elected a representative bargaining committee of RHHS employees. Since then the committee has been actively reaching out to co-workers to determine what improvements should be prioritized in their first contract. Additionally, the bargaining committee has participated in first contract trainings and has put together a series of proposals. They will present these proposals to management at their first bargaining session, which is scheduled for late November.

Resurrection Home Health Professionals Choose AFSCME!

Resurrection Home Health employees have stood up for themselves and their patients by voting overwhelmingly to organize with AFSCME Council 31. Despite a harsh and dishonest anti-union campaign from home health management, RHHS professionals voted by a more than 2 to 1 margin to win a voice at work.

"Management tried to confuse and scare us in anti-union meetings. They sent out email after email with dishonest ‘information' about AFSCME. They even asked for just one more chance," said Pamela Foster, RN. "But we were prepared with the facts, and our co-workers knew the only way to improve things was to have a voice through AFSCME."

Frustrated by management's increasing focus on employee "productivity," RHHS clinicians initiated the organizing campaign so that they could win a real voice in the policies that affect working conditions and patient care.

"Just like so many other places in the Resurrection system, our management has become increasingly focused on the bottom line," said Vicki Affinito, RN. "We decided to make our patients - and our ability to provide quality care - the priority again. We urge other Resurrection employees to join us!"

The newly formed union consists of RHHS RNs, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapist, and Social Workers. Soon, they will circulate a survey to determine bargaining priorities and form a negotiating committee.

Loretto Nurses Choose AFSCME!

By a more than 2 to 1 margin, Registered Nurses at Loretto Hospital voted to Join AFSCME in late May. The nurses, led by a strong organizing committee, were able to withstand a fierce anti-union campaign. The victory is just the second in twenty years for Registered Nurses at a Chicago community hospital.

"Management did everything they could to scare and confuse us," said Mabel Coleman, an RN for 34 years. "But we were prepared, and we knew the only way to win a real voice for ourselves and our patients was by voting yes for AFSCME."

Loretto nurses are now in the process of electing a bargaining committee and filling out surveys to set the priorities for negotiations with management. Their goal is to negotiate a contract that will win them a real voice in patient care and the dignity and respect that has been lacking in the past.

"I worked at OLR for years," said Maria Gonzalez. " After I started working at Loretto, I found out that no matter which hospital I was at, nurses faced the same issues. At non-union hospitals, our staffing is not adequate. Our voices are ignored. At Loretto, my co-workers and I just took a big step forward for nurses throughout Chicago. I encourage all Resurrection nurses to join us!"

West Sub lays off 38 in most recent cuts

Vanguard Health Care recently announced further cuts at West Suburban Hospital. Since acquiring West Suburban and Westlake hospitals in August of 2010, the for-profit hospital chain has slashed the jobs hundreds of caregivers in a series of layoffs.

The most recent layoffs at West Suburban were accompanied by cuts in hours for already overworked housekeeping and food service employees.

Before the sale of West Suburban and Westlake to Vanguard in 2010, employees, community groups and AFSCME Council 31 mobilized to ensure that Vanguard be held accountable to patients, employees, and the wider community.  Despite these efforts, the sale was approved with minimal conditions by the Illinois Attorney General and the Illinois Health Facilities Services and Review Board.

"In addition to the obvious hardships to employees, these cuts will surely impact patient care," said Bill Barclay of the Oak Park Austin Health Alliance.  "That's  why local community organizations, thousands of community members, employees, and religious leaders urged the state to take stronger action in 2010."

OLR Nurses vow to continue to organize despite setback at NLRB

For nearly three days in November, OLR nurses testified about widespread wrongdoing by OLR management and some doctors during last June's AFSCME organizing campaign. Despite their compelling testimony, a Hearing Officer of the Chicago Region of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recommended that last year's union election should not be set aside.

In the face of this setback at the NLRB, OLR nurses have watched conditions only get worse since a majority voted against AFSCME representation last summer. As a result, nurses on the organizing committee remain committed to building a strong union for OLR nurses through AFSCME.

OLR management ran a dishonest and costly anti-union campaign last June. Administrators and some doctors worked overtime to intimidate and confuse nurses before the election. Management's anti-union campaign-the threats, constant questions about how nurses were voting, and attempts to keep nurses from communicating with each other-created an environment so thick with fear, misinformation and tension that a fair election was not possible. As a result, AFSCME has filed exceptions to the hearing officer's recommendations to the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, D.C.

Resurrection Benefits Cut to Cost Employees

Resurrection recently announced its 2012 benefits package and open enrollment period for employees.  Many employees will be paying over 20 percent more for health insurance and Resurrection will eliminate the employer-paid short-term disability insurance as of December 31, 2011.  In addition, Resurrection has cut the amount of PTO time that employees may accrue. Click here for more information.

Resurrection/Provena Merge

Resurrection Health Care and Provena Health completed the merger of the two companies on November 1, creating the largest Catholic health system in Illinois.

During the approval process, AFSCME highlighted the discrepancies in nurse staffing and pension benefits between the two systems.  AFSCME urged the two parties to adopt the policies and practices that will help ensure the best healthcare for patients and most secure retirement for employees. 

Resurrection and Provena announced earlier the organizational structure of the new system that will result from the merger.  Click here for more information.

Resurrection Lab Employees Outsourced to Alverno

Resurrection has announced that as of December 25, 2011 all remaining lab employees will become employees of Alverno Clinical Laboratories.  This follows a move in 2009 where RHC outsourced its laboratory services to Alverno in Indiana. 

In a memo to employees announcing the outsourcing, RHC CEO Sandra Bruce stated that while the seniority and wages will remain the same the benefits package for the new Alverno employees will be different.  Bruce provided no details on the difference between the current RHC benefits package and the Alverno benefits package. 

St. Francis Found in Violation of Worker Safety Rules

After several instances of employees being exposed to patients' blood, Food Service and EVS employees at St. Francis decided to stand up for a safe workplace and contacted the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).  As a result, OSHA fined St. Francis $23,800 for failing to protect workers from illnesses spread through blood.  Click here for more information.

HEART/AFSCME Urges Improved Staffing and Benefits Security in Merger

HEART/AFSCME testified to a state board that Resurrection and Provena should protect Resurrection's pension and ensure safe RN staffing.  Click here for more details.

Resurrection and Provena Agree to Merge

On July 5, Resurrection Health Care and Provena Health announced that they had signed an agreement to merge the two systems, creating the state's largest Catholic health care network. 

Employees are concerned that the merger talks, which began in February, went on behind closed doors, with no opportunity for employee or community concerns to be heard.  The merger announcement did not provide any information regarding employees' job security. 

The merger will require approval from the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board.  Resurrection employees and their community supporters plan to scrutinize the merger proposal and provide state regulators with essential information regarding its impact on patients and hospital operations.   

OLR Nurses Vow to Continue Fight for a Voice at Work

After enduring an oppressive and Illegal anti-union campaign, OLR nurses vow to continue their struggle to win a voice at work through AFSCME.

Following a vote of 159-98 with 16 challenged ballots, AFSCME Council 31 will file charges with the NLRB before the election is certified.

Supervisors and doctors threatened, harassed and interrogated nurses in the weeks leading up to the election.  OLR even distributed t-shirts telling nurses to vote no-- with "AFSCME" written in dripping blood.

Despite the setback, OLR nurses remain unwavering in their commitment to improve patient care and win a voice for nurses through AFSCME.