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Washington Hospital Center fires 11 nurses, 5 staffers – Failed to Make It To Work During Snow Storm

Posted Feb 28 2010 11:17pm

This really sounds very tough if you ask me and again I am just reading information in this article, but gee even TSA even reversed their decision on considering employees AWOL during the storm.  On woman had trouble getting there and was late, so she spent the night to make her next shift the next day and still was fired!

Since this happens to be a Union shop, it’s time to find a way to cut cost and by firing the employees and if it sticks, then they will be replaced with part time image “casual” workers who work less than 30 hours a week and do not get healthcare benefits as a full time employee does.  Some offer some benefits to casuals and some contracts they get nothing.  This is a moral decision here and should be be used as a method to cut costs with employees who have worked at the hospital for most of their lives for many years.  Hopefully a grievance procedure will help out here for those who should have not been fired.  

In a past life in another industry where I worked in administration, it was very common practice at times, depending on the managers to start looking for was to “fire” people and replace them with casual workers, not nice, but it happens all over and right now with economic conditions as they are, I might guess some of this could be elevated in places where union employees work.  BD 

The District's largest private hospital has fired 11 nurses and five support staff members who failed to make it to work during the back-to-back snowstorms that paralyzed the region earlier this month.

Dozens of staff members at Washington Hospital Center face internal investigations, union representatives say, and it is unclear how many employees will lose their jobs. On Friday, the nurses union, Nurses United of the National Capital Region, filed a class-action grievance with the hospital.

"I see it as so unfair and uncaring," said Shirley Ricks, a 57-year-old nurse who has spent her entire career at the hospital. "That's it. You call in one day in the biggest snowstorm in history and you're out. No ifs, ands or buts about it. . . . You go from getting a salary every two weeks to nothing. It's scary.

In a letter sent to the staff on Friday, hospital President Harry J. Rider sought to quell rumors that hundreds of people had been fired. He said he expects fewer than 20 people will be dismissed.

Union representatives said about 250 of the hospital's 1,600 nurses did not make their shifts at some point during the storms that pummeled the area between Feb. 5 and Feb 11. Pak could not confirm that number but said on the Monday after the first blizzard, 759 employees who were scheduled to work did not show up. On a typical weekday, the hospital has between 3,100 and 3,350 employees working. The nurses earn an average of $40 an hour. image

Officials at other local hospitals and unions that represent critical personnel, such as emergency responders, said they had not heard of staffing problems elsewhere or of disciplinary action against employees who were unable to make their shifts. The Transportation Security Administration last week reversed an initial decision to consider Dulles International Airport security screeners AWOL if they had not made it to work during the snow emergency.

Pak said the hospital provided transportation for employees during the storm, but union representatives said it was not available at all times. In any case, they said, the vehicles could not reach every street. Stephen Frum, chief shop steward for Nurses United, said some nurses have photos that show their streets were impassable.

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