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about and embrace lifestyle choices that lead to healthier,
more active and satisfying lives at the 2017 Health &
Benefit Fair on Saturday, April 8.
Protest HCMC Layoffs, Lack of Transparency
200 workers rallied Friday against layoffs
at Hennepin County Medical Center.
“Chop from the top” and “Who does
the work? We do,” members of AFSCME
Locals 977 and 2472 marched around HCMC,
waving signs demanding respect. They were
joined by other AFSCME locals and several
unions, including the Minnesota Nurses
Association, IBEW and the Writers Guild.
Several members of the public took buttons
workers came out to protest both the
layoffs of nearly 200 workers, including
131 full-time employees, as well as the
way the layoffs came down in clear
violation of their union contract.
was handled very haphazardly,” says
Local 2474 president Sara Franck, an HCMC
dental assistant. “They did not meet
with us to strategize. They made very poor
decisions that patients are going to
affected by. They do not have enough
people to do the work, to care for the
patients who depend on us, who need us to
is not fair to the patients we serve at
this hospital with kindness, caring and
dignity,” Franck says. “That’s what
we give to our patients and that’s what
we should be receiving from our employer,
and that is not what they did.”
977 president Carmen Brown, an HCMC
patient service coordinator, says if the
hospital has to address funding
shortfalls, top executives are cutting
from the wrong place.
feel the hospital is top heavy in
management, and they need to chop from the
top,” she says. Brown says it’s the
frontline workers targeted by the layoffs
who do much of the work: They clean and
sanitize the hospital, make the food,
greet people and check them in. They
schedule appointments, set up insurance
coverage and make sure patients get their
they’ve had a hard day or hard
experience, they hug us and we hug them
back,” Brown says. “I’ve watched
children come in as infants who now are
adults with their own children. It’s a
community hospital, and we are here to
serve our community.”
members are passing petitions, holding
rallies and talking to lawmakers. AFSCME
is suing HCMC and the Hennepin County
Board of Commissioners. The lawsuit
charges that HCMC violated the AFSCME
contract in multiple ways, including:
work and hiring non-union contract
workers to replace laid-off workers.
the rights of veterans, who are
entitled to keep a job as long as it
laying off contract and temporary
doing layoffs based on seniority, not
giving workers notice of their bumping
rights, and not giving them enough
time to decide what to do.
is seeking an order that temporarily
blocks the layoffs and gives all these
workers their jobs back with pay and no
loss of seniority. Council 5 is also
asking the judge to require HCMC
management to meet and confer with AFSCME.
shared painful stories during the march
Friday about how the layoffs are hurting
workers. The looming staff cuts created a
climate of stress and uncertainty for
Aaron Guetter was just one step away from
being laid off. He says the only reason he
still has a job is because another nurse
didn’t bump him, and that’s tough
last few months, we’ve just been on edge
because we don’t know who’s going to
get laid off,” says Guetter, who’s a
trustee with Local 2474 and the AFSCME
Dental Trust. “Family life has been
affected, the stress. None of us know what
to expect. There’s just no transparency
with what’s been going on.”
have been looming so long, he didn’t
know if he should buy his young children
gifts at Christmas. His parents kicked in
so the holidays would be normal for his
can’t plan,” Guetter says. “We’ve
been saving money as much as we can. For
now, I’m safe, but I don’t know.”
Gaston of Local 977 says management is
disrupting life for workers in his
department, which cleans and sanitizes the
whole facility: They’ve changed around
schedules and made it impossible for many
employees to keep daycare or second jobs.
says management is also requiring the
people in his department to do more with
less. He figures workers are being asked
to do about two hours more work than is
possible in an 8-hour day.
finding a lot of young women crying
because they don’t know what to do with
their kids,” Gaston says. “It’s
thrown them all completely off. Most women
told me they don’t know what to do.
They’re going to have to quit their
jobs. That’s another way of laying folks
off, by just making them quit.”
Weilert, a medical coding specialist from
Local 2474, says she sees outsourcing all
around her at HCMC. She’s concerned it
will happen to her department, too, even
though outsourcing often costs more. She
also questions why top managers are
spending so much hiring consultants
instead of doing that work themselves.
outsourcing our work!” Weilert says.
“We deserve good-paying jobs to support
our families. What kind of message are we
sending to our patients and the community?
That we don’t value people.”
and her husband, Chris, brought their two
daughters, ages 11 and 9, along to march.
want them to see it’s important to fight
for what’s right and good-paying jobs,
and to be part of democracy and to be
activists,” she says. “What HCMC is
doing is just wrong.”
presidents Brown and Franck offered
several suggestions to HCMC:
workers job security, and they’ll
embrace change. Provide training if
workers need it.
resources where it matters most, like
the ER and trauma center.
fewer managers and more frontline
frontline workers in finding ways to
improve efficiency and deliver
service. They have a lot of ideas.
that frontline staff are not only
HCMC’s greatest asset, they’re the
heart and soul of the place.
YOU CAN HELP:
HCMC CEO Jon Pryor at 612-873-3629.
Tell him that layoffs and outsourcing hurt