Q&A from Saint John’s Caregivers

Over the past few weeks, we have heard from many caregivers that you have questions related to your employment, pay and benefits, and unions. It is our goal to be as transparent as possible in our communications with you to ensure you have the information you need to make an informed decision regarding whether or not to be represented by a union, and more importantly, to make sure that we are answering your questions about your Saint John’s employment. 

How do I know what I’m being paid is fair?

It has always been our compensation philosophy to provide competitive pay and benefits to our caregivers. And, Saint John’s caregivers’ pay and benefits have and will continue to reflect our unique market realities and needs. That’s why, for non-represented caregivers, we’ve provided merit increases and market adjustments based on local market surveys. Those surveys help us identify and make adjustments to pay when needed to ensure we can continue to recruit and retain the best caregivers possible. 

Can the union make promises to get me more pay, better benefits, a better shift, or higher shift premiums?

Remember that the union can promise anything it wants – but your terms and conditions of employment have to be negotiated if the union is voted in. Saint John’s would come to the bargaining table prepared to discuss the needs of the hospital, our patients, and all caregivers. We have and will continue to consider local market factors and the needs of our patients and community when making decisions that have financial consequences for the Health Center.

Who would be included in a bargaining unit? For example, other departments or part-time caregivers?

That depends on what group the unit [union?] requests to represent. At this time, we have no specific information about particular departments or caregivers who the union wants to represent.

Can I choose not to be part of a union if a union is voted in to represent my job?

If a union is elected to represent caregivers who fall within the group eligible to vote for representation, those caregivers may have to be members of the union to maintain employment. But, it really depends on what is negotiated between Saint John’s and any union. Regardless of union membership, if you are in a unionized job, your employment would still be covered by the collective bargaining agreement. Legally, once a union is in place, individual caregivers do not have the ability to opt out of the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement or to make agreements with managers to address their own individual situations.

If a union was voted in, would caregivers still get merit increases?

If Saint John’s caregivers elect a union to represent them, pay and pay increases will likely be determined by negotiations between Saint John’s and the union. There is no requirement that any current pay programs be continued on a longer-term basis or that any specific wage proposals be accepted by the union or by management. There is also no deadline to reach an agreement on pay and other terms of employment. In fact, it is not unusual for first time negotiations to take many months and some even last longer than a year.

How did the union get my contact information?

We do not know how the union got caregiver contact information. We do know that Saint John’s has not provided your personal contact information and would not give a union this information unless required by law.  Once a petition is received by the National Labor Relations Board with sufficient caregiver signatures, we will be required to provide that information.

Can the union be on site here at Saint John’s?

While the union may attempt to approach you onsite in public areas, such as a parking lot, you are under no obligation to listen to them. A union representative does not have a right to approach you while you are working. They also may not enter patient care areas.  You are under no obligation to talk to a union organizer, whether you are at work or in your home. 

If you have concerns, you can contact your manager or HR or file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, the federal government agency that protects employee rights.  More importantly, we encourage you to consider whether you want to choose a representative who resorts to intimidation.

What is Saint John’s Labor Relations Philosophy?

Saint John’s respects caregivers’ rights to be represented by a third party. However, we believe that a positive and respectful work environment can best be achieved through direct and open conversation where everyone has a chance to be heard and we work together to address concerns. If you have concerns or questions regarding anything here at work, we want you to contact your direct supervisor, your director, or human resources to get your questions answered or to address your concerns.

Who looks after the interest of non-union caregivers?

We believe that Saint John’s is the best place to work in our community. We know our accomplishments are due in large part to the incredible dedication and hard work you demonstrate every day. The best way to continue the success of the Health Center is through open, two-way communication with you, our caregivers. With that in mind, your leaders and human resources want to hear from you about how we can best engage you in our efforts to continuously improve. You are encouraged to bring your questions and ideas to your leaders both when they are rounding and during meetings. And, you can always reach out to your HR Client Manager.

Will Saint John’s have a merit pool this year?

Yes, Saint John’s is planning to have a merit pool for caregivers for 2017. Funding levels are determined annually, with the goal of making sure that Saint John’s remains competitive in the market. The merit ranges have typically been determined during the first quarter of the year.