UPMC (formerly University of Pittsburgh Medical Center), a large Pennsylvania health system, allegedly cut pay for some nurses in its travel nurse unit, according to reports.
Nurses in UPMC’s travel nurse unit, which was launched 2 years ago to fill vacancies throughout the 40-hospital system, were told last week that their wages would be reduced by 15% from $85 an hour to $72 an hour, according to WESA, Pittsburgh’s NPR news station.
The pay cut, which is expected to begin on February 11, will drop the annual gross income of the nurses from about $160,000 to $135,000, WESA reported.
Eleven UPMC nurses told WESA that when they signed their employment contracts, no one said the $85 hourly rate might eventually be reduced. Some said they were reassured that their pay rate would not change.
“There’s been no honesty, no transparency,” a floor nurse told WESA. “Everything I’ve been told has changed.” The nurses asked WESA to withhold their names because they feared retaliation by UPMC.
The nurses acknowledged that even with wage cuts, they will make significantly more than their colleagues. However, shifting from one facility to another requires a certain level of skill, they said. Additionally, higher wages are seen as a reward for the sacrifice of living apart from their families, they added.
In addition to reduced wages, travel assignments are increasing from 6-week to 12-week commitments, WESA reported.
Nurse Erica, who describes herself as a nurse advocate and has a large social media following, said she’s been “inundated” with “pleas for help” from nurses affected by the changes and posted a reaction video on TikTok airing her frustrations with the health system.
“Nurses are completely oblivious to how much power they hold,” Nurse Erica noted. “If they were to stand their ground, collectively as a group, they could move mountains.”
The nurses can respond to UPMC’s actions in several ways, Florida attorney George Indest, III, of the Health Law Firm in Orlando, told MedPage Today. They could form a union, start a class-action lawsuit against their employer, or file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission or the state attorney general’s office for “fraudulent and unfair trade practices” or “deceptive and unfair trade practices,” he said.
In an email to MedPage Today, Paul Wood, chief communications officer for UPMC, did not specifically respond to questions about wage cuts, changes to scheduling, or signing bonuses.
The travel staffing program was created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and since then, the healthcare landscape has “continued to dramatically change and there has been a significant shift away from external agency use, including a rapid decrease in contract rates,” Wood wrote. “We strongly value flexibility in components of our workforce, which is why the UPMC travel program will continue as an important part of our commitment to patients and staff, with premium pay for that workforce.”
“The scheduling agreement (UPMC Travel Staffing Agreement) is not a contract,” he added. “It was intended as a way to ensure that employees understood the program as it existed when they started. It states in that agreement that the agreement is not an employment agreement.”
Wood stressed the health system’s gratitude for the nurses in the travel program. “Their dedication and flexibility has been and will continue to be a key component of our care team as we continue to respond to the dynamic healthcare landscape in the U.S.,” he stated.
Source link : https://www.medpagetoday.com/nursing/nursing/108465
Publish date : 2024-01-29 11:08:48
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