Going to San Diego area?

  1. These hospitals are in Escondido, a beautiful town in the hills. An easy drive to beaches, ideal climate, trees, and friendly people.
    And now the nurses and other hospital workers have decent pay, benefits, and constantly improving staffing and education for staff!.
    From two newspapers:
    North County Times
    6/20/03
    More PPH employees near union deal
    GIG CONAUGHTON
    Staff Writer
    Two weeks after 700 nurses at North County's largest public hospital district saw their first union contract approved, a second group of Palomar Pomerado Health employees have reached agreement on their first pact
    About 1,300 "support" employees ---- nurses aides, respiratory therapists, radiological technologists, housekeeping and kitchen workers, admitting representatives, laboratory personnel and operating technicians ---- would get an immediate, average 9 percent pay increase if the deal is approved.
    Hospital and union officials said the employees would also receive a cumulative 20 percent salary increase over three years. In addition, Palomar Pomerado's current "merit" pay raise system would be replaced by a 14-step pay-raise schedule and the employees would have a new pension plan under the California Public Employees Retirement System.
    Hospital board members approved a deal for district nurses June 2 that will give them an immediate, average 22 percent raise and a cumulative 30 percent raise over three years.
    Union organizer Fernando Losada said the rank and file support personnel will vote on whether to ratify the contract Wednesday and Thursday. Palomar Pomerado spokeswoman Tamara Hemmerly said board members would probably vote on the contract at their July 14 meeting.
    The proposed contract for support personnel was pieced together in the past two months by a panel of union representatives and hospital district managers. The employees won representation in February under the Caregivers Healthcare Employees Union.
    One support employee, Ginger Sivek, a health-care assistant at Escondido's Palomar Medical Center, said the proposed pay raises would be the largest she's seen in the 13 years she's worked in the district.
    "We usually get like 30 cents (per hour) a year and that's based upon a (manager's) evaluation," Sivek said, "The way the evaluations were set up, the most you could get was a 4 percent raise. So, yes, it's a significant raise. This is a major victory."
    Sivek said she felt the biggest improvement in the proposed contract was to do away with the merit raise system, which tied any pay raise to favorable evaluations, a process workers said was often subjective.
    Gil Taylor, Palomar Pomerado's vice president of human resources, said he felt the proposed contract was a good deal for the hospital district, too.
    Palomar Pomerado is the largest public hospital district in California, employing roughly 3,000 people. It operates Palomar Medical Center in Escondido and Poway's Pomerado Hospital, and serves 11 North County communities spread over an 800-square-mile area.
    "Our feeling is that we want to be among the top (paying) health-care systems in the region," Taylor said. "That's why we felt we had to make the dramatic move with our nurses and our (support) staff."
    Michael Covert, Palomar Pomerado's new chief executive officer who took over in January, has repeatedly said he wants the district to become more competitive on salaries in order to keep employees happy and to improve the district's ability to hire and keep those employees.
    Doing that, he said, will cut down on both the high salaries of temporary employees and staff overtime that the district must pay when it is short-staffed.
    District officials said the nurses' contract will increase the district's expenses by $5 million in its first year, and by $20 million to $22 million over its three-year length.
    Taylor said the support employees' contract would increase district expenditures by $2.6 million in the first year. He said the deal's three-year fiscal impact was not available.
    Both Taylor and Covert said they expect the district will be able to pay the increased salaries through a combination of better management, possible hospital rate increases and creating new hospital services.
    If the hospital district's board approves the proposed contract, the vote would likely end the district's long ---- and often bitter ---- unionization process.
    Nurses began telling hospital administrators they wanted to unionize in July 2001, after a change in law made it easier to organize by only requiring a majority of nurses sign authorization cards rather than holding a secret-ballot election.
    Palomar Pomerado managers, under the leadership of former hospital district Chief Executive Officer Norm Gruber, argued for months that they did not believe the new law applied to the district. Nurses charged district leaders with using "stall" tactics to defeat the unionization effort, filed grievance charges with the Public Employees Relations Board, and eventually threatened to stage a one-day walkout.
    Nurses finally won a unionization vote in June 2002, one month after the board abruptly fired Gruber without giving a public reason.
    In a much less acrimonious process, Palomar Pomerado's support personnel told administrators in December 2002, six months after nurses won union representation, that they also wanted to unionize.
    Sivek said the less-specialized members of district's support personnel, such as housekeepers and cafeteria workers, had the least bargaining power and will probably see the highest percentage raises if the contract is approved.
    "For those workers who were so grossly underpaid ... I cannot wait to see their faces," Sivek said. "I really can't. It is exciting."
    Contact staff writer Gig Conaughton at (760) 739-6696 or gconaughton@nctimes.com.
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    The San Diego Union-Tribune

    June 20, 2003, Friday

    SECTION: ZONE;Pg. NI-3

    Health-care workers to vote on contract

    BYLINE: John Berhman; STAFF WRITER


    ESCONDIDO -- More than 1,300 service and technical employees in the Palomar Pomerado Health district have reached tentative agreement with administrators on their first union contract. It would provide an average salary increase of 20 percent over three years.

    If approved, employees would receive a 9 percent salary hike immediately, and the remaining 11 percent over the next two years. The proposed contract would cost the district about $5.1 million over the three years, $2.5 million the first year and $1.3 million each of the following years.

    The workers, represented since February by the Caregivers and Healthcare Employees Union, will vote on ratification of the contract Wednesday and Thursday.

    "We expect overwhelming ratification from the employees," said Joanne Jung, a spokeswoman for the California Nurses Association, which works closely with the service and technical employees union. The seven-member hospital board is scheduled to consider the contract July 14 and also is expected to approve it.

    The district's more than 700 registered nurses approved their first union contract last month, giving them an average 30 percent salary increase over three years. District nurses joined the CNA last year.

    The health care employees, which include service and maintenance workers, hospital admitting personnel, housekeepers, respiratory therapists, radiology technicians, licensed vocational nurses and nursing assistants, also won a 14-step pay schedule that provides salary increases based on experience. Under the system, an employee advances a step each year for the first eight, and a step every two years after that, up to 20 years.

    "Employees who dedicate themselves to the hospital district will be rewarded with a wage system that recognizes their years of experience," said Doug Cade, a member of the employees' bargaining team and a respiratory therapist for 17 years.

    "With the wage grid, or schedule, we have eliminated the gross pay inequities of the previous merit system and gained substantial raises for all of our employees."

    Employees also would have a new pension plan through the California Public Employees Retirement system. Other benefits in the contract include paid education leave, improved on-call standby pay, time-and-a-half pay when called to work overtime and a commitment that health-care premiums would not increase.

    Gil Taylor, administration chief negotiator, said the district is happy with the proposal. "Our goal is to be one of the highest-paying hospital districts in the market," said Taylor, a senior vice president for human resources. "It's our way of ensuring that we can retain and recruit the best people."

    Taylor said the district has budgeted salary increases for nurses as well as the service and technical employees. Part of the reason the district is able to cover the additional costs is the reduction in the amount that would otherwise have to be paid in overtime and outside hires.

    Besides Palomar Medical Center in Escondido and Pomerado Hospital in Poway, the district also operates Palomar Care Center in Escondido and Villa Pomerado in Poway for longer-term patients.

    John Berhman: (760) 737-7577; john.berhman@uniontrib.com
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