LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A protest planned for Monday at University Medical Center takes aim at a hospital policy that requires workers to give eight hours notice when they call in sick — or face discipline.
It’s an unfair policy, according to a union that represents health care workers in Las Vegas.
“This is no way to treat employees, especially frontline workers who carried our community on their backs during the pandemic,” SEIU Public Sector Executive Vice-President Debbie Springer said.
The union also said the policy also forces workers to find someone to cover their shift if they have to leave work due to illness, but UMC Chief Executive Officer Mason Van Houweling challenged the union on that point.
“Employees who become sick at work are able to go home immediately to rest and recover. There is absolutely no requirement or expectation for these team members to find coworkers to cover their shifts. This is the responsibility of clinical leaders,” Van Houweling said.
UMC’s full statement appears at the bottom of this story.
SEIU — Service Employees International Union, with local 1107 in Las Vegas — represents 3,400 health care workers connected to UMC and its clinics, and is one of the fastest-growing unions in the country, with about 2 million total members. The union’s Nevada membership is around 19,000, including 4,600 health care workers, according to an SEIU spokesman.
“Employees should be allowed to use their sick leave when they need it without fear of discipline,” Springer said. “We have already heard from employees who have had to go to work sick because they couldn’t meet the eight-hour limit. That’s not best for them. It’s not best for patients. It’s not best for our community.”
An “informational picket” planned for two hours beginning at 11:30 a.m. Monday will call attention to the situation. The hospital is on Charleston Boulevard, just west of Interstate 15.
The union said in a Friday news release that workers and union leaders have tried without success to reach an agreement with hospital management. Employees and union representatives spoke at the Board of Governors meeting on Wednesday, the union said.
Two weeks ago, the union released a report critical of other hospitals in the valley — Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, MountainView Hospital and Southern Hills Hospital and Medical Center — for staffing levels it described as dangerously low.
Full statement provided by UMC’s Mason Van Houweling:
It’s important to note that this call-off notice requirement was agreed upon by UMC
and SEIU Local 1107 and is clearly defined in the existing collective bargaining
agreement. In support of our shared mission to maintain the highest level of care and
service for our patients, the collective bargaining agreement includes language
explaining that employees must provide at least eight hours of notice whenever an
absence from work is necessary. This allows leadership to implement alternative staffing
strategies to cover the call-off and reduce the impact on patient care. This provision of
the collective bargaining agreement has been in place for years.
We absolutely understand that life happens, and employees may need to call out sick
without providing the full eight hours of notice from time to time. This is why we have an
incredibly lenient progressive counseling process in place. In fact, an employee would
have to fail to provide appropriate notice at least four times within a single 12-month
period before warranting any serious corrective action.
The recent news release issued by Hailstone Communications on behalf of SEIU Local 1107 includes incorrect information about this provision of the collective bargaining
agreement and how it is enforced. Employees who become sick at work are able to go
home immediately to rest and recover. There is absolutely no requirement or
expectation for these team members to find coworkers to cover their shifts. This is the
responsibility of clinical leaders.
This mutually agreed upon provision of the collective bargaining agreement helps UMC
maintain the best staffing ratios in the state while delivering Nevada’s highest level of