The president of the union representing University of Iowa health care employees is not happy with an announcement by hospital leaders that non-union employees will not have to take furlough days as part of the budget cuts. AFSCME Council 61 president, Danny Homan, says that is unacceptable.
Homan says his concern is “an issue of fairness.” He says the governor asked union members to take seven furlough days and they agreed to take five, while the management and exempt employees are not taking any furloughs. “That seems to be highly unfair,” Homan says. Homan is also critical of the hospital plans to send management personnel on a trip to Orlando, Florida for training on customer service.
Homan says:”It wasn’t but a few weeks ago, or a month ago that the University of Iowa Hospital was crying about how broke they were. All of a sudden they seem to have found a pot of gold. I guess that is why they are going to go to Disney World.” Homan says everyone should do their part in the budget cuts. He questions how the university can raise fees on students and while some employees are not taking furloughs.
“I think it’s counterproductive for the regents system to say they are going to charge a 19, 20, 21,22-year-old an additional 100 bucks to go to college, and yet take no mandatory unpaid days, furlough days for the management or the exempt people at that university. Maybe they ought to give the kids their 100 bucks back, and they ought to be taking some furlough days instead of charging the kid,” Homan says. U-I Hospitals spokesman, Tom Moore, says all employees have taken cuts to help with the budget.
“The non-AFSCME employees have contributed in multiple ways, in addition to the reduction in their retirement benefits,” Moore says, “for example professional and scientific employees have also participated in our voluntary vacation give back and voluntary temporary pay reduction programs to the tune of two million dollars.” Moore says those cuts taken by the non-union employees are part of the overall effort to cut the budget.
Moore says those employees have made sacrifices, as have the faculty who participated in those programs. He says through those measures they were their budget goals, “As a matter of fact here this last month we have just reported that we have a 12-million dollar positive operating margin.” Moore says the furloughs were never part of their budget cutting plans.
Moore says they had no plans to require employees to take mandatory unpaid days. “And so the agreement that was reached with AFSCME and the state was separate from our plans. We did not intend to ask anyone to take mandatory unpaid days,” Moore says. Hospital officials made the announcement Tuesday that non-AFSCME employees will not have to take furloughs.