By Sarah Simons, RN; and Kathy Everson, RN, Janell Johnson Thiele, MNA HCMC Tri-Chairs
When you know something is wrong, it’s worth a fight. Earlier this year, we saw that management was violating the contract in calculating annual wage increases and decided to correct that wrong.
The hospital was basing the calculations on a rolling 365-day year instead of a calendar year as required by the contract.
Our visiting nurses, who became part of MNA in 2016 and were directly affected, first noticed the discrepancy in their paychecks and alerted us.
When we pointed out the issue and told management that the contract clearly called for basing the increases on the calendar year, HCMC claimed nurses agreed to the rolling 365 days in the past. We searched and found no evidence to support the hospital’s claim, and filed a grievance after the hospital refused to comply with the contract.
That wasn’t enough for HCMC, which refused to budge until nurses let management know we could call the Minnesota Labor Department for an audit of payroll.
It didn’t take long for management to agree to change the way it calculates annual wage increases and begin complying with the contract.
HCMC tried to make it retroactive only to the beginning of 2018, but once again nurses stood strong, saying that many of the visiting nurse members suffered major losses and deserved to be made whole. HCMC reluctantly agreed to make the corrections as of July 1, 2017.
The result is 64 nurses receiving a total of $58,572.47. Our nurses saw back pay totals ranging from $72.38 to $6303.37. Some nurses’ base pay will increase as a result of this fix.
This is not the first time nurses have had to file grievances to stop HCMC payroll practices, winning back pay for some members.
HCMC is now in the process of changing its policy around payroll errors, thanks to nurses standing strong for what’s right.
We are helping management fix other payroll errors to prevent future problems and grievances.
Our nurses are very happy with the results of this grievance. There were passionate conversations on Facebook and elsewhere about this issue’s impact on nurses and the hospital’s failure to treat members fairly and honestly.
As a public hospital, we can no longer ask nurses to contribute to running the union through fair share fees. This case highlights the importance of our union and how we stand up for members’ rights.
We learned you have to speak up when you see something is wrong. Our advice to other nurses: be passionate about your contract and don’t be afraid to fight for it!