At a time when we are seeing significant changes in healthcare and many hospitals are facing layoffs and cutbacks, union members at University of Miami Hospital have found a new way forward.
Through hard work, dedication and an unprecedented level of collaboration between 1199SEIU bargaining committee members and University of Miami Hospital management, union members recently approved a union contract that makes historic investments in quality patient care and a brighter future for UMH workers.
The new approach we took to negotiations involved both parties sitting together at the bargaining table, rather than across from each other, working side-by-side to draft contract proposals with the help of a labor-management consultant.
As a result, this contract is huge step forward, and our labor-management partnership is stronger than ever.
“Working with management at this negotiation was wonderful,” said Carletha Clarke, a certified nursing assistant (CNA) and tele-tech at UMH. “It was different, it was enlightening, and it was marvelous because we all came together at the table to decide what is best for us all. Our patients come first, staff, family members – we all are together in this.”
A strong partnership, however, would not have been possible if it were not for the groundwork laid by the UMH Labor-Management Committee, which is comprised of staff and management working together to improve patient care and work environment. The committee was re-launched and revitalized earlier this year and we have already seen tremendous improvements throughout the hospital.
Providing outstanding patient care has always been the top priority of both parties, and our contract is a reflection of that goal.
By pledging to work together to improve patient length of stay, patient satisfaction, HCAP scores and other quality care metrics, UMH made a commitment to re-investing potentially millions of dollars in savings in frontline healthcare workers through gain-sharing wage increases.
However, as is often the case with most hospitals, staffing can be a big challenge. To meet our goals, UMH will be hiring over 90 new employees to help reduce workloads so that we can provide more personal care to our patients.
“Increasing staffing is wonderful,” said Elizabeth Jazon, a registered nurse at UMH. “It will decrease the workload of the nurses on the floor, as well as the CNAs, and give them more time to interact with the patients, because we are looking to become the number one hospital in the nation.”
UMH is also investing significantly in an historic Training & Education Fund – a first in Florida for 1199SEIU - for employees to move up the career ladder through tuition assistance, college prep, GED, ESL and undergraduate and graduate education.
“My intentions are to get a refresher course for CNA and then go on to tele-tech,” said Patricia Thompson, a technician in environmental services at UMH.
Whether it is negotiating a new union contract, securing good jobs for our community, or providing the high level of patient care 1199SEIU healthcare workers are known for throughout Florida and the entire country, our members are leading the way with innovative solutions.