Licensed Nurses, Technicians Protest at Genesys Regional Medical Center

Jun 29, 2010, 17:49 ET from Teamsters Local Union 332

Members of Teamsters Local 332 on Informational Picket Due to Hospital Cuts

GRAND BLANC, Mich., June 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, hundreds of hospital workers picketed in front of Genesys Regional Medical Center to protest the hospital's draconian terms proposed during the latest round of negotiations that would terminate the current retirement, health care and wage system.

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The technical bargaining unit is represented by Teamsters Local 332 in Flint, Mich. The group, comprised of licensed practical nurses, technicians, paramedics and EMTs, has been notified that the hospital will impose drastic cuts and layoffs in August. Their contract expired on March 17.  

"These employees have continued to work without a contract even though the hospital refused any contract extensions after March," said Nina Bugbee, President of Local 332. "They care deeply about their patients and have been working gracefully without a contract even as the hospital proposed outrageous cuts to their pay and retirement."

Genesys Regional Medical Center abruptly ended contract talks with the Teamsters on June 24. The hospital is refusing to accept any counteroffers to its proposed contract or to schedule any additional meetings to discuss the contract. The hospital notified the media that it will impose the contract on its employees in August.

"Lives are at stake here. Genesys aborted the negotiations process and refuses to accept a counterproposal from us," said Angela Oberman, business agent for the technical bargaining unit at Local 332. "Employees who have dedicated their lives to this institution are seeing their pensions eliminated and their wages cut, and they can no longer look forward to a dignified retirement."

The contract Genesys proposed would:

  • End employees' defined benefit pensions
  • Cut the hospital's contribution to employees' retirement plans by 75 percent on average
  • Demote all licensed nurses to technicians, with resulting pay cuts of up to $7,000 per year
  • Eliminate licensed nurses and all paramedics and EMTs
  • Eliminate all step increases in wages
  • Eliminate many opportunities for overtime pay
  • Increase employees' health care co-pays by 100 to 142 percent
  • Increase employees' prescription drug co-pays by up to 300 percent

"If Genesys imposes this contract, some of these dedicated health care workers would lose $800,000 from their retirement," said James P. Hoffa, Teamsters General President. "Many of them will also see higher health care co-pays at the same time their wages are cut. I am stunned that a Catholic institution would treat its dedicated, longtime employees this way."

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents more than 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Fact Sheet: Ascension/Genesys Health System

Company Overview

  • Ascension Health is headquartered at 4600 Edmundson Road, St. Louis, MO 63134. The phone number is 314-733-8000.
  • Ascension Health is the nation's largest Catholic and non-profit health system, and is comprised of 37 health systems or centers in 20 states, totaling over 570 hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers, labs, and other facilities. Ascension was formed in 1999 through the merger of the Daughters of Charity Health System and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Nazareth, and the subsequent acquisition of nine hospitals operated by the Catholic Carondelet Health System.
  • By revenue, Ascension is America's third-largest health system. Ascension also employs 113,000 people nationwide. Ascension Health is classified by the IRS as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Without its non-profit status, Ascension would be number 220 on the Fortune 500.
  • The President and CEO of Ascension Health is Anthony Tersigni, EdD, FACHE. He was appointed to this position in 2004 after serving as COO and Executive Vice President of Ascension since 2001. Tersigni was recruited into hospital management from his post as the finance director with the Republican Party of South East Michigan. Tersigni's total compensation was $2.75 million in 2008.
  • For the year ending June 30, 2009, Ascension's total operating revenue was $14.3 billion and total income from operations was $371 million. Ascension ended the year with net assets of $8.3 billion. Thirty-seven percent of Ascension's net patient service revenue is paid by Medicare. Another twenty percent is paid by state Medicaid programs.
  • Ascension is contracted to build a $60 million drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in Saudi Arabia.
  • Ascension was criticized by public officials and the NAACP for closing hospitals in poor areas of Detroit and opening new ones in wealthy suburbs.
  • In March 2010, Ascension was awarded a series of tax-exempt revenue bonds totaling $1.35 billion by the Michigan Hospital Finance Authority and similar authorities in Wisconsin, Tennessee, Texas and Connecticut to raise low-cost capital using taxpayer funds.

Health Care Professionals at Ascension/Genesys Health System

  • Genesys Health System, a member of Ascension Health, provides health care services in the Flint, MI area, serving primarily the counties of Genesee, Shiawassee, Lapeer, Oakland, Livingston, and Tuscola. For the year ending June 30, 2008, the Genesys Regional Medical Center, also a non-profit organization, reported total revenue of $437.3 million.
  • In January 2009, Genesys agreed to pay over $1 million in an NLRB settlement for wrongfully firing six clinical engineers.
  • In December 2009, Genesys agreed to pay $669,413 plus interest and $97,500 in attorney fees in a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice over claims of Medicare overcharging. In May 2010 Genesys agreed to another settlement with the D.O.J., for over $931,000, for allegedly submitting false claims to Medicare.
  • In March 2010, Ascension Health settled with nurses at St. John Hospital in Detroit for over $13.5 million. The nurses sued Ascension's St. John Hospital and other area hospitals for violating anti-trust laws by conspiring over a five-year period to keep nurses' wages artificially low.
  • Teamsters Local Union 332 represents over 1,000 nurses and 300 technical employees at the Ascension-affiliated Genesys Regional Medical Center in Grand Blanc, MI. The technical employees' contract expired on March 17, 2010.
  • The contract for 720 nurses represented by the Michigan Nurses Association at Ascension's Borgess Health in Kalamazoo, MI expired on March 19, 2010.
  • Genesys wants to stop the current pension fund and instead wants employees to pay for their own retirement in a tax-deferred savings plan. Genesys proposes to cut its contributions to employees' retirement by 75%.
  • In a community already underserved, Genesys has eliminated 50 LPN positions and wants to demote 70 more, which would mean a wage cut for many of them. Genesys also wants to eliminate all paramedic and EMT positions and may sub-contract the emergency service work.
  • Genesys nurses and technical employees are represented by Teamsters Local Union 332, 1502 South Dort Hwy, Flint, MI 48503. Nina Bugbee, President. (810) 767-7330.

SOURCE Teamsters Local Union 332