In the summer of 2014, Local 21 filed a grievance on behalf of Nurse Program Managers who work at the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center (RMC) and at the County Jail. Local 21 and the members insisted that the members be paid for the huge number of unpaid on-call hours they were working. The County refused. The case eventually went to arbitration, and after more than 2 years, justice is finally being served.
Each of these members were essentially working on-call from the moment their “regular” work day ended until they returned to the hospital or jail the next day, which amounted to about 16 on-call hours during weekdays and 24 on-call hours per day on their regular days off. This included when they were out sick, on vacation, and out of the country.
The Local 21 contract states that these workers are to receive on-call pay, but their department head did not given authorization for the pay. As a result, these members were working an enormous number of unpaid hours. The grievance demanded that Nurse Program Managers get back pay and full on-call pay going forward.
While the case was ongoing, management relented and began to pay the members for on-call work 50% of the time, while still requiring them to be on-call 100% of the time.
But the members held strong and made impassioned arguments for themselves during arbitration. The arbitrator was clearly moved by their stories of being overworked and exhausted, all while working under an emotionally abusive manager.
While the arbitrator ruled that the contract did require departmental approval before on-call could be paid, she agreed with Local 21 that once on-call pay was authorized, it should have been for all hours worked. As a result, in November the arbitrator awarded back pay for 11 members totaling nearly $320,000.
While parts of the case are still ongoing, the victory is sweet and hardworking members are very happy with the results. Cita Richeson, one the of the members who testified at the arbitration, praised Local 21; “We wanted to let you know that we received our on-call back pay. We are grateful for your representing our NPM team. This would not have been possible had it not been for your belief, persistence, and expertise.”