After Three Months Of Bargaining, Northern Inyo Healthcare District And Union Workers Reach Contract Agreements

 

 

After three months of bargaining, Northern Inyo Healthcare District and its union workers reached agreements increasing wages and adding benefits for those asked to fill COVID-19-related staffing shortages.

NIHD Chief Executive Officer Kelli Davis said NIHD remains committed to its most valuable resources, its providers and employees. In a statement, Davis said, “Our Board, our Executive Team, and I sincerely hope these agreements demonstrate our commitment to those who share their knowledge and talents for the health and wellness of our community. They have shown compassion, grace, and dedication to our neighbors in a uniquely challenging time, and for that, we are grateful to each employee.”

During the last three months, NIHD engaged in good faith bargaining for the Registered Nurse and Technical units, represented by the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Davis said much appreciation goes out to all team members involved in the negotiations and those throughout the District who supported these negotiation efforts at every level. 

During this round of bargaining, only the subject of wages was open for renegotiation. Both unit contracts had wage re-openers scheduled for August 2021. This schedule required the District to reconsider current wages for represented employees during the life of the existing agreements, set to expire on Oct. 31, 2022.

NIHD and AFSCME reached tentative agreements for the units on Nov. 3. Union members voted to accept the contracts as presented on Nov. 8. The agreements then went before NIHD’s Board of Directors Monday night for approval. The Board unanimously approved both.

Under the agreements, members of the RN Unit will receive a 12 percent wage increase. Technical Unit members will receive between 6.9 percent and 10 percent wage increase based on their position in the District’s bi-annual wage analysis. Unrepresented District employees, including department leaders, will see similar adjustments.

The changes are retroactive to Oct. 10, and employees will begin to see these adjustments with the Nov. 21 pay period and the Dec. 10 paycheck. The approved agreements cover Nov. 3 through Oct. 31, 2022.

As the District continues to balance fiscal sustainability and its full commitment to the wellness of the workforce through compensation and benefits that are competitive and responsible, decision-making around the core of our revenue cycle process, amongst other District operational processes, has received continuous review and analysis by the NIHD Executive Team during the past several months. 

The NIHD Executive Team has decided to outsource billing and coding. This decision has affected, in total, 13 members of the billing and coding teams. Davis said this decision was very difficult and weighed heavily on the administration. Ensuring every effort to support these team members through this transition is a priority. Each member has the option to choose a reassignment to a new role (with which they are qualified) within the District or a severance package to support their wages and health plan coverage needs.

We found out what could be done, how it could be done, and how we could make this a win for everybody, especially the community,” Sharp said. “This is also about sustainability, at the end of the day it is our duty to make sure that we are here every day providing the health care necessary for our local community. Thank you, everybody, from every corner and every region of the District. We appreciate all you do for us each day and rest assured; your efforts do not go unnoticed.”

Separate from the negotiation finalization approval, but of significant importance, during the Special Board Meeting, NIHD and AFSCME agreed in a side letter that under the new COVID Crisis Staffing Shift Bonus, those Technical Unit employees picking extra shifts on top of regular schedules would earn $400 per eight-hour shift or $250 for shorter periods. NIHD’s Board unanimously approved the bonus. Unrepresented District employees will see the same shift bonus options. The incentive is a temporary measure, and funding will come directly from COVID relief funds.

About Northern Inyo Healthcare District: Founded in 1946, Northern Inyo Healthcare District features a 25-bed critical access hospital, a 24-hour emergency department, a primary care rural health clinic, a diagnostic imaging center, and clinics specializing in women’s health, orthopedics, internal medicine, pediatrics and allergies, general surgery, colorectal surgery, breast cancer surgery and urology. Continually striving to improve the health outcomes of those who rely on its services, Northern Inyo Healthcare District aims to improve our communities one life at a time. One team, one goal, your health.

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Masked Locals
Masked Locals
2 hours ago

Outsourcing is used to get rid of pension load as well as bust unions. Why do you guys think that the new CEO was hired? How else is she going to justify her 6 digit salary? Timing is everything. Just a mere coincidence that she was just hired right now in the middle of negotiations. NIH could have hired 2 ICU nurses for her salary. So what’s wrong with the medical industry?? Why don’t we have enough people to staff ICU beds in times of emergency in the USA? Gollyjeewiz, I just can’t seem to figure it out. Maybe it’s just cheaper to just fly everybody to Reno…..

InyoArabians
InyoArabians
2 days ago

How is outsourcing 13 jobs a “win” for anyone? Now any of us dealing with future billing issues are going to what, call a hotline? Wait on hold for hours so Davis could pad her bottom line?

Concerned
Concerned
2 days ago

I love how they say they bargined in good faith. They used these 13 employees as bargining chips and until these employees decided to leave they didn’t come to the table. So 13 employees will be terminated yet Ms Davis is making a premium salary for someone who brings no experience to the job. Actions speak louder then words and these types of actions do not make employees feel safe or valued and for many voting on a contract knowing 13 people would lose jobs feels gross. Do better NIHD and show these employees that you truly care

Ickity
Ickity
3 days ago

12%? who gets a 12% raise?

Pine
Pine
2 days ago
Reply to  Ickity

People who’ve been underpaid for years.

Ickity
Ickity
2 days ago
Reply to  Pine

They are hardly underpaid! Go to Transparent California to see how woefully underpaid they are.

Pedro
Pedro
1 day ago
Reply to  Ickity

Rickety Claim,

I’ll bite. Slight rounding of numbers. Transparent CA shows one of the RNs at $97k/year in 2019 base pay. Plus 12% would be about $109k/year. Don’t know if there was increase last year.

$120,560/year is average mean salary for CA reported by US Bureau of Labor department Statistics in May 2020.

Trans CA shows “other pay” $1300 and “benefits” $46k. TC, like you, aims to vilify. So for all we know the other pay could be reimbursement to employee of things employer legally has to pay for. Likewise benefits probably also include things every employer has to pay like Social Security and Medicare. Those run close to 8%, so say $7.5k. So say $39k in unknown benefits. 40% on top of wages is fairly normal to keep a skilled employee. Medical insurance, 401k match, etc.

So what I’m seeing is someone in the middle of the pack for their field. I also see very little overtime for most including RNs That leads to believe it’s not offered. RNs can work as much as they like most places.

So ya, they’re in a position to ask 12%.or walk. Try running a hospital without them.

Better dust off those nursing degrees lickity split, Rickety.

Concerned
Concerned
14 hours ago
Reply to  Ickity

What do you think is a fair wage for nurses?

Pedro
Pedro
3 days ago

“During the last three months, NIHD engaged in good faith bargaining for the Registered Nurse and Technical units, represented by the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).“

Why point out you bargained in “good faith”? Good faith is legally, and ethically, required for valid contracts. Just comes off strange when someone unprompted points out they didn’t lie.

Also they bargained “for” the workers and not “with”? Then thank everyone while glossing over the loss of thirteen local jobs.

Interesting read.