Pharmacists have been quietly filing grievances for months over the inability to get vacation on a first come, first served basis when requesting time off for unfilled vacation slots.
For those not familiar with the AFSCME/OHSU contract, management must identify at the beginning of the year the number of opportunities available for vacation time on any given day throughout the year. Those vacations “slots” that aren’t used during the vacation bid in February of each year are available, by contract, on a first come, first served basis for the rest of the year.
Due to chronic understaffing OHSU Pharmacy management has been consistently refusing to honor vacation requests made by pharmacists for time which is contractually available. As a result, employees are having to resort to shift trades and schedule changes to get time off. The lack of vacation availability is taking a toll. Combined with large amounts of extra shifts and overtime to fill shifts left vacant due to unfilled staff positions pharmacists are feeling overworked and under appreciated.
Many current pharmacists believe that these working conditions are leading to staff turnover, fatigue and low morale. As the grievances which have been filed move to arbitration pharmacists might begin to get some relief when arbitrators start enforcing the union contract, but it’s a long process. In the meantime pharmacists are meeting with union representatives to work on strategies to bring about a more immediate resolution.
As Joe Ness, Vice President for Professional and Support Services, said in a recent meeting: “I don’t care how much money you earn in your job, if your vacation is denied, it’s a morale buster.”
It’s time for OHSU Pharmacy management to take these issues seriously and work with the union to resolve these issues.