Thank you for opening the door to this topic.
I am currently on an assignment, more than midway through a 26 week contract. I found out last week that I am making as much as 33% less
than my coworkers who are working for other agencies. 33% less for doing the exact same job with the exact same housing!!
Now I know it is unprofessional to discuss with ones fellow travelers your rate of pay and have never had such a discussion during the course of prior assignments. This, however, is a unique situation. The facility is very small, located in a remote resort location. They use quite a few travelers for their season. We all live in hospital housing, work full time together and play during our off shifts. After a few months and a few cocktails you can learn quite a bit about your coworkers, including their rates of pay.
Needless to say my new found information filled me with fury and suspicion. "Who is taking advantage of me, the agency or the facility?" After leaving a message for my recruiter I scheduled an appointment with the DON (a definate perk to working in a small facility is the access to the people with the answers). What I learned from the DON was that she was currently using a hand full of travel agencies and that essentially they had all been contracted for the same rate. Why, then was 33% more of that contracted rate winding up in the hands of my coworkers? Ofcourse this was a question only my recruiter could answer....
And this is the fifty thousand dollar question (All right, more like $8000) "Why is it that your competitors are receiving the same rate as you from the hospital and managing to pay their travelers 25-33% more? What are you doing with my
money?" The way I see it one of two things is happening here
- The overhead for this large national travel agency is so out of control that they can no longer pay a competitive rate
- You are making a whole lot of money off of me
Either way I was not making these thieves one more dime until I recouped some of the cash that had been diverted from my checking account to date.
Believe me when I tell you we went around and around. In the end did I get what I deserved? No but they did agree to a bonus that will make my compensation closer to what my more saavy coworkers are making. The only reason I got this bonus is that I alleviated the grey area. Housing is usually a bad agencies most powerful trump card. "Your housing is better/more expensive blah blah blah". Also unscrupulous agencies are banking on the fact that the decision maker at the facility won't be accessible and usually this is true. That's why this experience is so important for all of us. If you find an assignment you are interested in ask the person who interviews you what other travel agencies the facility uses. Call these agencies and ask what they are paying for that same contract. Shop around until you find the best senario for you. Then go back to your agency with all your facts and wait for your much improved offer. Don't let these agencies low-ball you because they will.
And so my fellow travelers I hope this experience of mine will help you all to be better negotiators on your upcoming assignments. There should be no room for unscrupulous agencies. Remember there is a nursing shortage. Agencies need us more than we need them. Let's support those good ones who truly support their nurses.