SMDC Rejects Contract Offer, Authorizes Strike

http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/event/article/id/156923/publisher_ID/36/

FYI, SMDC netted $28.7 million in profits (despite being a “nonprofit” hospital) in 2007 and purchased over $5 million worth of property last year. CEO Peter Person makes $1.1 million per year. The average medical transcriptionist makes just on the threshold of a living wage – $35,000 per year. Solidarity! (Stay tuned for info on how you can help out…)

36 Comments

lojsdmo

about 12 years ago

I support my fellow workers.

vicarious

about 12 years ago

I'm super pro-union, but if $35,000/year is "just on the threshold of a living wage", then I should've been very, very, very dead a long, long time ago.

If I made $35,000/year, I'd be in Mexico right now.

wildgoose

about 12 years ago

Noteworthy:  These health care employees voted in the steelworkers union to represent them in their disputes with SMDC. 

Hardball.  Both teams. It must get vicious in those negotiations or else they would have stuck with a medical or maybe clerical union.

Mark

about 12 years ago

The idea that non-profit organizations should not generate an operating profit is ridiculous. 

The term non-profit simply means that the company does not distribute net profit to shareholders, employees or individual stakeholders directly.

Whether or not the distribution of profits is achieved indirectly is an entirely different matter.

TimK

about 12 years ago

It doesn't help that the CEO of whatever the hell the name of the larger corporate entity that owns St. Mary's has an annual salary of over $1,000,000 a year. We ALL could move  to Mexico with that kind of cash!

rediguana

about 12 years ago

Vicarious, according to Penn State University's "Poverty in America" project, living wage in Duluth for a family of 3 (2 adults, 1 child) is about $41,000 per year  while "low-income" is defined by the feds as 200% of the Federal Poverty Guideline, or $35,200/year for a family of 3. Let me also point out that while Person's salary alone could support 31 hospital clerical workers, overall compensation for all of the hospital's 20 or so executives totaled over $6 million in 2007.

The workers aren't asking for an executive salary. They're asking to keep pace with inflation so they can continue to support their families and to not lose their jobs to outsourcing.

I second TimK's point, although personally I would get tired of the heat after a while and want to come back north.

Bret

about 12 years ago

Solidarity!  And let's remember to thank the unions and the union workers for all they've given us: higher wages for all workers (whether unionized or not), weekends, eight hour day, workplace safety regulations, and on and on.  Thanks!

lojasmo

about 12 years ago

Living wage for a family of four in St. Louis county is $60K.  Living wage for a family of three (two adults, one child) is $45K

adam

about 12 years ago

We need more little hillside hospital parking lots.

O.G.Duluthian

about 12 years ago

Asking for a one year wage freeze is not uncommon during these tough economic times. As a member of one of the local building trades, I know that many of the local unions have settled contract negotiations for that exact same situation. A one year wage freeze verses a reduction in the number of employees sounds acceptable to those who need to keep their jobs and health care benefits. I am sure that many people that lost jobs due to being led to believe that solidarity will save jobs wished that they would have used a little more common sense. I have always thought that my union business agent is not always making the best judgment when it comes to advising the members in situations like this.

Bad Cat!

about 12 years ago

I'm going to stay out of this, but just let it be known that there's more to the story here...

Danny G

about 12 years ago

Wait.  So the iron workers represent the the people clerical workers at SMDC?  How exactly does that work?

zra

about 12 years ago

asking for a one year wage freeze is fine and good if you ask it of employees who can *afford* it. like, say, upper management.

asking a support staff member for a one year wage freeze when the cost of living does nothing but increase while giving yourself a and your office buddies five and six figure pay increases is plain asshole-ish.

Non-union SMDC employee

about 12 years ago

As a non-union worker of SMDC, it has been 3 years since I received a cost of living raise and we have been told by our supervisor to expect pay cuts this year (talk of 20% similar to what was done at Cirrus)-- well, I did get a $250 "bonus" last year as if that made any difference (most union employees got a 3.5% raise).  If the non-union employees already have wage freezes and may experience wage-cuts, why should the union employees get a raise?  BTW: non-union does not equal management.  As a non-union employee, I make about $33,000 gross/year working full-time.  If I was a union employee, I guess I would have a hard time supporting a strike knowing that by doing so I would be essentially giving up my job losing pay and losing benefits.  If the union is so supportive of its workers, why does it not offer some type of compensation to the employees on strike?  Where do the union dues go?  When I was in the steelworkers union at SMDC, my union dues were close to $40/month when I made less than $20,000/year.  And when I was told that my position was eliminated, I was told by my union rep that they were really sorry but there was nothing they could do to help me.   I never once felt like the union did anything for me.

Mac

about 12 years ago

Rediguana....  41,000 is for a family of three.  The 35,000 is for ONE person.  So basically a transcriptionist makes almost enough to support an entire family by themselves.  This isn't 1951.  Both members of a family work these days much much more often than just one member.

The Big E

about 12 years ago

Perhaps some of them are among the thousands of single income households with children in the Duluth-Superior area.

Dj mouse

about 12 years ago

Just to shed some light on the situation

this is the peoplese union vs big insurance company -

See SMDC and their likes- they are STILL incorporated in the cayman isles! 

http://www.caymancaptive.ky/index.php?q=node/73

Essentia Health Insurance Services - SPC -Segregated Portfolio Company - is  reputedly the name and  type of tax free company that is the owner of the SMDC complexes and systems. Which puts SMDC and 11 other regional hospitals as operating in tax free " jurisdictions" - this is how they can legally outsource labour right under our noses. 

Also interesting reading - the actual cayman islands govt website that lists the insurance companies that own the hospitals here in duluth - In fact there seems to be at least 5  companies here that seem to work out of the same hospital- and not to mention the "minnesota physicians insurance company" ? since when did docotors have different health care to their patients ?

some great reading ...have a look - compliments of DJ mouse

http://www.cimoney.com.ky/WorkArea/linkit.aspx?LinkIdentifier=id&ItemID=976

Nice article from MPR about the situation
http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2009/12/23/cass-county-hospital/

Link to the persons in charge of Essentia Health

http://www.essentiahealth.org/index.cfm?PAGE=senior_team

Winger

about 12 years ago

Seriously......every time a union decides to picket or strike, everyone on this God-forsaken site grabs their pitchforks and torches to join them.  I seriously hope the workers strike and are replaced by people that would appreciate the work, because "cost of living" increases are a load of crap.  If you want a raise, work harder and deserve it instead of punching the clock every day and expecting a raise based on the fact that you dragged your sorry ass to work for yet another year.  Doesn't matter how hard you worked, or how many times you called in sick, or even how well you did your job......all that matters is that you show up and try REALLY hard not to fuck up so much that they have reason to fire you.  Which is a great way to go through life, eh?

The executive staff at SMDC oversees eight different medical facilities that employ thousands of people.  But of course, that is a piece of cake, right?  35 medical transcriptionists could EASILY run a multi-state hospital/clinic system, no?  How many people have the qualifications necessary to do the SMDC executives jobs?  Not too many.  THAT is why they're paid like they are.  Here's the bottom line: People who file papers, or mop floors, or type shit that is already written down ARE NOT WORTH $15 an hour.  Why, you socialist jackmonkeys ask?  BECAUSE PEOPLE WITH THOSE JOBS SKILLS ARE A DIME A DOZEN.  If someone is willing and able to do the same job for less, they should be able to.  It's a free country.....unless you buy the load of horseshit the unions are more than willing to sell you.  Sweet JC, you people are cracked.

There are three nuns (you know, the people who take a vow of poverty?) from CSS on the board of SMDC, one of whom is the board chair.  If you think they are throwing money at a bunch of executives because they don't have anything better to do with it, you're all on crack.  They pay those people that much for a reason: Because they have taken the time to become educated and work their asses off in every job they've had since they stepped out of school.  These executives that you all love to excoriate didn't land in a cushy $500k job after being an executive assistant.....they worked their way up and took risks--such as managing others or taking on additional job responsibilities.  And you wonder why union workers are always disgruntled about their jobs: The union contract they love so much forbids them to be "management" or to do anything outside their "job description".  What a load of crap.  Unions are for people who never did anything for themselves, wiping their owns asses included.  See, if union workers are SO great at what they do, why don't they direct the massive pension funds of theirs to invest in companies that are cooperatively-owned by the union workers themselves?  Answer?  No one would use them because their work is substandard, they're lazy and have an entitlement mentality surpassed only by the welfare masses.  Coupled with the fact that they would need SOMEONE QUALIFIED TO RUN THE COMPANY--CALLED "MANAGEMENT".  Of course, if that qualified person were to stick to true union ideals, s/he'd make just as much as every else regardless of his experience and s/he'd be required to use a different title than "management", because in uber-twisted unionland, that is a curse word.

I know this a whack-job liberal message board, but y'all really need to pull your heads out of each other's asses and realize that unions have essentially become paid extortionists in America.  They pulled one of the biggest con jobs on record by getting all of their employees health care benefits exempted from the health care reform excise tax on "Cadillac" insurance plans.  Of course, I'll never find any complaining here about how that will screw independent non-union contractors who happen to pay their employees' insurance, nor will I hear how labor unions and frivolous lawsuits are the largest contributors to rising medical costs.

Fuck, people.....you all just don't get it.

TimK

about 12 years ago

Winger is indeed a wingnut.

Winger

about 12 years ago

Wow, nice retort TimK.  Typical lib response: namecalling.  I guess it's easier than trying to defend your broken ideology.

TimK

about 12 years ago

Sorry, Wingnut, I mean Winger. You know, the only person in the world who is allowed to say, "I am the smartest person I know" is Stephen Hawking. Your screed or rant or whatever blather you want to call it is misinformed at best, disingenuous at least.

Winger

about 12 years ago

And yet, you still haven't argued a single point.  You sit in front of your computer fuming because there isn't a single thing you can say in rebuttal.

Come on, TimK, I know you have to have SOMETHING factual to say in response......or did what I say hit a little too close to home?

TimK

about 12 years ago

Sorry, Winger, I was apparently too busy smoking crack. The history of organized labor is my side of the argument. Your "facts" are only your opinions. I've never belonged to a union in my life, but I still support them. You appear to believe that people do not have a right to collectively bargain. If that's the case, then why are you even "sharing" your point of view? Crawl back under the DCB rock and leave us po' liberals alone.

Winger

about 12 years ago

Oh, I have no problem with collective bargaining.  I also have no problem with management hiring replacement workers.  The "history of organized labor" is wrought with atrocities.....including a very distinct connection to something else that is "organized": Organized crime.  Coupled with the fraud, intimidation, embezzlement and extortion that accompanies organized labor at every turn.  See, there's no money in union workers organizing their own cooperatively-owned companies for the reasons I listed above, and one other glaring reason: There's far better money to be made sitting on the sideline and getting their fingers into other people's wallets.  If that's not the case, then tell me why unions won't direct their pension funds to invest in union-owned operations.

Unions have been extorting private business for YEARS.  Back in the early 1900's, there was a legitimate reason for unions to exist.  That reason is no longer applicable......though the unions keep tooting the same horn they did back then.  Sorry, but $15 an hour is way too much for the work that half of these SMDC employees are doing.  The entitlement mentality, such as that of the unions, is permeating throughout our society, and if left unchecked it will be the downfall of our nation.

TimK

about 12 years ago

My sincere apologies to the PDD community for having fed this misanthropic troll. I'll try harder in the future to let sleeping assholes lie.

Winger

about 12 years ago

Don't know why you're apologizing to the PDD community for your complete lack of anything useful to say.  You're just another lackey of the left.....no basis for your arguments...... except for maybe, "It's not fair!"  Well guess what, douchebag......life isn't fair.  Asshole, eh?  A little more namecalling from a mindless imp?  Wow, please don't hurt my feelings.  I don't know what I'd do if someone called me an asshole.  Get in line, bud.....you're not the first and won't be the last to call me that, especially with the abundance of union hacks and other assorted liberal causeheads around these parts.

dj mouse

about 12 years ago

@TimK - you put up a great fight. But really, since he has resorted to the use of obscene and also speaking in a very condescending manner to his own fellow Americans workers - It shows where his allegiances lay. (not with the American worker)

@Winger - I hope you grow up to be Union leader - A big well meaning and picketing type, maybe doing some good for the ppl -rather than thumming up your knuckles and bumping up your toothless gums, in support of a few Americans that hide behind the guise of a religious order, only to be counting the "profits" of a "non profit" organisation in a tax haven. Nothing is illegal here - just very unethical..But say what - I haven't expected any different from then "MANAGERS" as you call them or you. Be blessed and refrain from the profanity..you can get the cops called for you by posting hateful speech.

dj mouse luv Ya!

BlackMath

about 12 years ago

Fifteen hundred people falling on their swords over a one year wage freeze and thirteen outsourced jobs isn't solidarity, it's half-witted suicide.

BlackMath

about 12 years ago

And there isn't anything remotely unethical about a nonprofit company turning a profit. Take a closer look at what Mark said earlier: SMDC is a not-for-profit company because it isn't publicly traded, not because it doesn't make a profit.

Debster

about 12 years ago

Sheesh, whine..complain. You know the solution, people: GET OUT. Pack up your stuff and leave. We did 22 years ago and never once looked back at Dull-uth.  Life is beyond *terrific* out here on the East Coast. Great jobs, tons of advancement opportunities, super benefits, oplus if you move to a military-saturated area as we did (Hampton Roads, VA), you can practically write your own ticket. You decide what you're worth and even a mere hostess in a restaurant has salary leverage. 

Why sit and moan about how lousy your way of life is when you can up and change it - just like that - pull up stakes and come live where life is good all the time! And yeah, it is just that easy. 

Just my opinion as an EX-Duluthian.

Resolut

about 12 years ago

The East Coast does seem like the land of milk and honey.. Golly gee..you mean everything is terrific, life is good..no foolin?...Can't wait to see a real life army man down there in Virginia, where even the poor write their own ticket! Swell, thanks!

Zoomerang!

about 12 years ago

Debster, people here whine because there aren't any jobs and then SCREAM when someone tries to bring jobs to town because they don't like the type of business they're bringing.  Duluth has got to have one of the highest concentrations of CAVEpeople and NIMBYs anywhere in the United States, if not world.

Sadly, it's damned if you do, damned if you don't.  Once 75% of the people here realize here in the year 2010 that business isn't inherently bad for the environment, maybe Duluth will be home to some new jobs.  Aside, of course, from schlepping canvas bags, cranking out eco-friendly cutting boards and working at an overrated co-op.

Jude

about 12 years ago

@Zoomerang! When I separate the pages, I find quite a lot of truth and a a nice dose of humor in what you say even if it goes off topic 

There are a lot of people here who do not want to rock the status quo by inviting competition, so Duluth ends up being a bit behind times IMHO. And there are so few jobs it is a pity, we guard them like our kayaks.  Even at the fitness center, those who tell you they have been there for "20 years" can make you feel (if you let them) as if you are taking their space. I love it here though, better than, well, anywhere else. I love the people, the whole deal. But not the Co-Op, we agree on that.  

And to stay on topic I support unions and management. Sigh.

Zoomerang!

about 12 years ago

Jude--What kills me is that it'd OK to show concern about something new coming into the community.  But it doesn't stop at that.  It's full-fledged, pitchfork-wielding psychosis that overtakes the masses.  Take for instance the proposed PolyMet project--people were screaming bloody murder when they announced their intent to STUDY establishing a new operation on the Range.  Not even so much as a survey had been done, and people were already forming an angry mob.

Another great example was the proposed golf course at Spirit Mountain.  Granted, a lot of that opposition came from the Fond du Lac tribe (who, not coincidentally, dropped a golf course on a wetland behind their casino a couple years later), but a couple of people knee-jerked and threw a holy sh*tstorm because SOME of the land at Spirit Mountain was going to be used in a way that didn't jive with their opinions.  Never mind the tens of thousands of people that WOULD have been able to enjoy that land and view as a golf course (let's face it: most of our seasoned citizens aren't avid hikers/geocachers), and no matter the tens of millions of dollars that our local economy lost out of from that potential private investment.  And congrats to the Skyline Alliance and like-minded "green" groups who sent a legal lynch mob after the developers: Those developers have since been investing the majority of their time, efforts and money elsewhere.

And then there's the pristine Clough Island.  It used to be a farm.  A FARM.  No one uses the island for recreation, and if you do, you're tresspassing......because it's private property.  The investors in the Clough Island project were going to pour millions into our economy to develop the island, and a handful of loudmouths--including our glorious former Mayor Bergson--told them to get lost.  Why?  They had proposed a development that would have minimal impact on the ecosystem, would have allowed more people to enjoy our area and created hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs.  But no.  Not here--it's OUR community.  Apparently we don't want new people here unless they live, work and play where WE want them to with what WE want them to work, live and play WITH.  That is wrong.  It is incredibly pompous--to think that WE have the right to dictate what others do with their land.  The fact of the matter is that the environmental/NIMBY/anti-change factions in this city need to understand that, as a community, there is no such thing as treading water.  You're either moving forward or falling behind.

And a direct statement to the environmentalists:  If you want to make a difference, work WITH developers, politicians and investors instead of against them.  I guarantee that developers would much rather have people helping them avoid damage to the ecosystem than filing frivolous obstructionary lawsuits at the first HINT of a construction project.

Duluth will be a rusty slum of 35,000 people with lots of green space if we don't make a concerted effort to attract new development and new residents.  The average Duluthian isn't getting any younger--it's time to get some new blood in this town.

Resolut

about 12 years ago

Zoomerang!-
While Duluth's reluctance to change is a source of great frustration, you artificially link the rare successes of stopping the destruction of some great assets of the city.  

Duluth needs to transform its economy into one that protects the earth rather than poisons it.  Sorry, but I don't think Polymet, Spirit Mountain golf course, or the proposed Clough Island development meet that minimum bar.  
Duluth's population is less than half what it once was.  There is no excuse for developing on greenspace, we can work new developments into to the fabric of the city's current footprint. And if lazy developers can't work to rebuild what we have, instead they'd rather cut down old growth pines, they can take it somewhere else.

That is a mature view.  Consider your not-yet-born grandchildren when you're weighing the short term benefit of a few hundred jobs from resource extraction.  Has copper mining ever been done without polluting the watershed?  The answer is no.  "But this time will be different," they always say.  Well I do not believe them.  I believe they will inject they area with a lot of money short term and leave a long term legacy of water pollution and environmental degradation.  We will have to find a way to explain this to our children.  How did we let some slippery out-of-towners charm us into believing this mine would be unlike every other copper mine?  Well you see mommy was desperate, her port wasn't so desirable anymore. She was in an abusive relationship with Mr. Ironore, who would show up and promise the world only to abandon mommy time and time again just when she got hopeful.  Then smooth talking Mr. Polymet came around, made a bunch of promises and pimped your desperate mom, and she started whoring cheap.

Paul Lundgren

about 12 years ago

This thread has gone WAY off topic. Since United Steelworkers and SMDC have a tentative contract agreement, I think it's fair to shut down the comments on this one so we can all get on with our lives. So that's what I'm doing.

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