RELEASE: Caregivers at Univ. of Iowa Health Care Receive Regents’ Response to Their Partnership Proposal

– In contract talks at UIHC, Iowa Regents respond today to the innovative Partnership Proposal put forward by 4,000 union caregivers

– RNs and professional staff kicked off talks last week with a proposal that sets aside old, adversarial ways and pursues joint solutions

– UIHC adopted the slogan “We Stand Together” during the pandemic; Regents’ response will show if they’re ready to put those words into action

WHAT: Iowa Regents respond to UIHC caregivers’ innovative Partnership Proposal

WHEN: Thursday, Jan. 21, 1 p.m.

WHERE: Livestreamed at Iowa Board of Regents YouTube page: bit.ly/IowaRegentsYouTube (Livestream link also available at: www.iowaregents.edu)

MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Download union Partnership Proposal here with strong images of UIHC caregivers || Contact us for interviews with union bargaining team members

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IOWA CITY — As they continue to battle COVID-19, caregivers at University of Iowa Health Care (UIHC) today receive the initial contract offer of the Iowa Regents.

In a livestreamed presentation on Thursday at 1 p.m., the Regents, who oversee UIHC, give their response to the innovative Partnership Proposal put forward by the union caregivers. The union proposal invites the Regents and UIHC administrators to work together with frontline staff to protect care and solve staffing and pandemic challenges.

“UIHC adopted the slogan ‘We Stand Together’ when COVID-19 hit our hospitals and clinics,” said Cathy Glasson, president of SEIU Local 199, which unites the 4,000 nurses and professional staff of UIHC. “In these contract talks, we want to work with the Regents and the administration to put those words into action.”

Here are the essentials of the Partnership Proposal the SEIU Local 199 bargaining team made last Wednesday, Jan. 13:

  • Build a true Labor-Management Partnership so frontline staff have input into the decisions that affect care and can offer ideas to improve patient outcomes.
  • End financially unnecessary furloughs that have exacerbated staffing problems at UIHC. UIHC’s operating income came in $14 million over budget in fiscal 2020, but it is still furloughing staff. At the same time, UIHC is severely restricting vacation for many staff and hiring high-priced agency nurses and temps. This makes no financial sense and stresses staff caring for Iowa during the pandemic.
  • Invest in competitive pay and implement policies that stem the alarming rise in turnover among experienced staff. Pay for nurses in Iowa ranks 48th among the states, and compensation for RNs and professional staff at UIHC lags far behind peer institutions. This fall, UIHC also made sudden and demoralizing changes to schedules and overtime pay. Addressing these issues will provide much needed help with retention. In 2018, roughly 160 caregivers with over 10 years’ experience left UIHC; in 2020, almost 470 did.

The UIHC caregivers entered these negotiations with major momentum. In October, they voted 2,828 to 38 to keep their union in a recertification election for public employees mandated by Iowa law.

SEIU Local 199 represents 5,000 healthcare and public service workers across Iowa. It is an affiliate of the 2-million-member Service Employees International Union. SEIU’s Healthcare Division includes 1 million nurses, lab techs, environmental service workers and other vital staff who serve 60 million patients and clients.

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