Monday, November 19, 2007

Extremely Complicated

Like other nurses in The Valley, Disappearing John, for example, I have recently been given a seasonal pay increase. As John noted, hospitals around here do this in an effort to retain registered nurses on staff. This is in addition to yearly cost-of-living pay raises and such. John thoughtfully and kindly rues that other people he works with, who themselves happen not to be nurses, didn't get this.

Me too.

If it weren't for support staff, hospitals just wouldn't be hospitals. Instead they'd be huge steaming piles of garbage. The housekeeping people are my best friends forever when I'm at work. The technicians, secretaries, and therapists are indispensible. Security and maintainence staff, the people who work the supply chains, the dietary workers... every single one of them occupies a critical niche in the system.

Anyways, this is all about the nursing shortage. So they toss us a few coppers in the hopes that we won't go for the nifty sign-on bonuses and other lucrative bait offered by other hospitals begging for nurses. It clutters up my mailbox. Not every day, but every week come the job invitations. They call you on the phone and offer to fly you to their hospital to court-and-woo you.

Heheh. "Woo-you."

Anyways, California has a serious shortage of nurses also.

[Snip] California ranks 50th in the nation in number of RNs per 100,000 population (Moses, 1997). The current shortage is termed a "public health crisis" owing to a projected shortfall of 25,000 nurses within the next five years (California Strategic Planning Committee for Nursing [CSPCN], 2000; Educating California's Future Nursing Work Force Report, 2000). Finding 25,000 additional nurses over the next five years only maintains the status quo (Sechrist, Lewis, & Rutledge, 1999).

Other sources say California only ranks 48th rather than 50th in number of nurses per whatever thousands of people in the general population. Like that makes a difference.

What they don't have is a shortage of University of California Chancellors. All of those positions are full. Yet, in order to keep the pay for these positions "competitive," they are being offered huge salary adjustments:

The proposed salary hikes for chancellors heading the 10 UC campuses would total $3 million.

For UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgenau, a 33 percent increase would boost his current annual salary of $416,000 to $553,280. For UC Davis Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef, the increase would take him from $300,000 annually to $399,000.

Like Disappearing John, I am very thankful for my few cents' hourly raise. But these folks... really. If they don't want to keep a job that pays $300K a year, then they can go back to school and obtain new skills like everybody else.

The proposal is currently on hold. But in these times, do you really expect saner voices to prevail? I don't.

"We caught them trying to sneak it through," said an incensed Leland Yee, a state senator who authored a new law requiring the UC governing board to discuss such business in public. It takes effect Jan. 1.

"They'll wait a little, hoping we've expended our energy," said the San Francisco Democrat. "But the workers, the faculty, the students and the lawmakers are upset and we won't let them get away with it."

The rank-and-file are sure to be annoyed and ignored, too. I am not sure what it would take to stop this nonsense.

That point was not lost on William Schlitz, a representative of 21,000 UC workers who are members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, including nurses, custodians and food service workers.

"It kills me when they talk about recruitment," Schlitz said. "What vacancies do they have among the chancellors? They're talking about 33 percent increases for chancellors when they can't keep their nurses and or fully staff their hospitals.

"The chancellors are looking at raises ranging from $30,000 to $60,000 – that's more than some of my members make for a full year's worth of work. That's mind-blowing."

Retention? As it just so happens, three of the 10 chancellors have just been hired.

So Disappearing John, I am happy for you and your recent pay increase, and I certainly appreciate mine. But it isn't much compared to the big enticements the rich like to pass out amongst themselves.

One of the Regents said that the Chancellors deserved the raise because "their jobs are extremely complicated." Compared to what? Emergency department nursing?

Show me. I will believe that when I see it.

1 comment:

wunelle said...

The last seven years have made me ever more cynical about business culture in our society (if that were even possible). I just think the very term "business" implies a bunch of white guys pulling some shit over on everybody else and congratulating themselves for it in private. And they've never had so friendly a governmental environment as now, near as I can tell.

I work in the airline industry, which has come apart at the street level. But the executives continue to award themselves gazillion-dollar bonuses, and did so even as the companies under their care were being run into the ground.

I work for a cargo airline, which has remained solvent and healthy, but I have so many friends who have taken it in the teeth while the management of their companies does very well.

Makes you crazy.