The top three comments win a neat grab bag of goodies — delivered in person!
One major issue with OHSU’s plan is that it creates a form of double punishment for higher-seniority employees who get disciplined. Suppose a department has two employees with written warnings—its most senior employee, who has worked at OHSU for 10 years, and its least senior, who has worked at OHSU for 2 years. Come vacation-scheduling time, the employee with only 2 years’ seniority would have had last pick anyway, so OHSU’s proposed restrictions don’t have an additional effect on them—they’re already at the bottom for seniority even without the discipline. So, both of these employees have received the same level of discipline, but the punishment is harsher for the most-senior employee. How is that fair?
Nobody, coworkers or managers, likes working with lazy, jerky employees. What OHSU has proposed is not the way to deal with them. Managers already have the tools they need to deal with problem employees—how many of them actually use these tools? If you’re in a department with someone you feel is consistently performing poorly, you might ask why your manager isn’t taking the steps necessary to discipline that employee in order to improve the working conditions of everyone else.
Many of us have worked for, or have friends who’ve worked for, bad managers here. Many of us have also seen OHSU do mass layoffs, cut retirement benefits, etc. over the years. Do folks really believe that there won’t be bad managers who use this proposal unfairly or that OHSU wouldn’t take advantage of it if they needed to do some drastic cost-cutting in the future? This proposal has the potential for serious negative ramifications. I’ve worked with a lousy employee before, and it does make one’s work life more unpleasant. The way to deal with poor performers, however, is to actually discipline/manage the individual poor performers, not to take away the contract rights of more than 5,500 employees.
Have you noticed that OHSU hasn’t proposed anything to reward high performers? They don’t even go through the motions of holding an annual holiday/employee appreciation event anymore. OHSU has been in excellent financial shape for years, but they’re not even willing to shell out for some cheese cubes and mini-cheesecakes once a year to thank their employees.
Today’s email from OHSU about their proposal states “We feel strongly that OHSU’s agreement with AFSCME should reflect our organization’s value of performance excellence and promote fairness for all employees.” The union agrees! OHSU’s way of showing how much they value performance excellence is to propose stretching out our pay progression, keeping our wages average, carving away our contract rights, etc. Do you feel valued?
My biggest concern with this proposal is the belief that disciplinary action is a measure of performance. It’s degrading as an employee. What about the skills I bring to make sure the patient experience is optimal? The care, collaboration, and education I provide? For example, an Medical Assistant who clocks in a few minutes late three times in a quarter receives disciplinary action. However, this has nothing to do with job performance in the sense of functioning in direct patient care or as a medical team member. Another MA could clock-in right on time to the minute everyday but, not be able to take blood pressures correctly (an actual performance function of the job) that affects everyone’s workflow and results in poor patient experience at the visit. Regardless of this gross misdirection of discussing employee performance in the context of disciplinary action, vacation and holiday bids should not be targeted, that feels like maybe “cruel” but, definitely “unusual punishment” that should be avoided. I can understand the argument for loss of the seniority benefit for layoff protection and job/hire bids however, not at such a low level of disciplinary action. If these are going to be implemented, then it needs to be only after escalating to multiple disciplinary levels and maybe even stipulations about what type of behavior was continuing to occur.
I’ve been at OHSU for almost ten years. In that time I’ve had seven managers, going on eight. Some were good; some were bad. Not that much has changed with me. Some of those approached our operations with a punitive mentality and some were encouraging and over the top helpful.
All in all, I’ve experienced a whirly dervish of a department. The temperament that I’ve experienced when I walk through those doors over the years have been vastly inconsistent.
The takeaway is this: managers come and go. There are plenty of bad ones. There are plenty of good ones. But employees stay loyal. If an employee has seniority and has been slapped with some discipline for who knows what, it’s most likely a clashing of personalities. There’s a due process to get rid of bad apples. However, this proposal reeks of vendettas and bush league managerial tactics.
OHSU has all the tools they need to either motivate underperforming employees to improve or to weed them out. OHSU management doesn’t use them very well. Takes too much effort to manage well. Easier to just cram some automatic arbitrary punishment into the contract and the problem is solved. So next contract will they propose that vacation scheduling be determined by performance? This allegedly is an institution of higher learning. Seems like grade school to me.
I really don’t understand how they think this is ok. It seems like they want to take away all your union rights once you make a mistake. What safe-guards are there to guarantee managers won’t increase the number of written warnings knowing they can shake up things like vacation and holiday staffing? Their proposals are getting more and more frustrating!
Tami, +15 years
Well said 151! Can you imagine not having a union? Unpaid sick and vacation, getting fired on a manager’s whim, getting sent home or called in whenever? It can’t be said enough MEMBERS are AFSCME, the bargaining team follows our lead so we individuals need to speak up.
OHSU is heading down the wrong path. It is time for us to say no. If you care for something you don’t sit silent while it makes a big mistake. OHSU is on the cusp of making a number of short sighted decisions. OHSU is starting to lose it way, let’s get it back on track.