Lifespan’s new sick day policy at Rhode Island Hospital is forcing health care workers to decide between getting fired or coming to work sick. Two unions, IBT Local 251 and UNAP, picketed, marched and got loud on Thursday to drag Lifespan to the bargaining table in order to put a stop to the policy.
Under the policy, workers earn an “occurrence” for a missed day at work. Missing a weekend shift earns two occurrences. Earn too many occurrences and you can lose your job. Part time workers are in danger with seven occurrences, full-time workers with eleven. But working with sick people puts hospital employees at a greater risk for communicable diseases such as the flu, stomach viruses and pink eye. The new policy, say workers, is, “Unfair to those who care,” but getting Lifespan to come to the table to bargain in good faith has been difficult.
Workers marched from Rhode Island Hospital to the Lifespan offices, where they created a terrific racket. Workers say that Lifespan is not listening to their concerns about the policy, so they are making sure that their voices are being heard. Workers shouted, “Can you hear me now?”
“Lifespan thinks we’re just going to go away, and be quiet, and take the policy they give to us,” said Helene Macedo, president of United Nurses Allied Professionals (UNAP) Local 5098. “But no. They have UNAP and the Teamsters fighting together, fighting against this policy.”
Matt Taibi of IBT Local 251 talked about his recent visit to RI Hospital emergency room with a stomach virus.
George Nee of the AFL-CIO.