Staff at McLaren: Slash paychecks for corporate millionaires

Lansing workers push for executive pay cuts over front line furloughs


WEDNESDAY, April 22 — A health-care workers union is demanding that McLaren corporate executives be limited to salaries of no more than $1 million during the pandemic.

The Office and Professional Employees International Union, Local 459 called for salaries at McLaren’s corporate offices to be capped at $1 million while its lower-tier, front line employees continue to face furloughs and the potential for widespread layoffs on the horizon. The union represents 1,100 health-care workers in the Lansing area.

“It just makes sense that if there’s going to be sacrifices made by front line workers, that top corporate executives should share in that and make no more than $1 million per year, putting the remaining money back toward patient care,” a union spokesman told City Pulse today.

Union officials said 78 McLaren employees in Greater Lansing have been temporarily furloughed due to a significant drop in patients at hospitals and health care systems statewide. Employees have also been asked to take voluntary time off to reduce the potential for layoffs.

Instead of putting pressure on the front line, union officials contend that about $8.4 million could be saved by trimming from the top, redirecting cash to front line staff and more personal protective equipment. While no immediate PPE shortages were identified in Greater Lansing, union officials argued cash would be better spent there than padding paychecks of millionaires.

“I can think of no clearer example of how broken our health care system is than having a CEO continue to make millions while front line caregivers lose their jobs in the height of the first wave of a pandemic,” said Deb Eddy, cardiovascular technologist at McLaren Greater Lansing.

Additionally, Michigan hospitals received about $1 billion in federal aid from the CARES Act. McLaren has not disclosed how much of that cash it has received, union officials contended.

Union officials, in a recent press release, also said resources need to be redirected to properly screening patients, cross-training health care staff to work in ICUs, hazard pay and emergency paid time off for employees that must miss their shifts for various, coronavirus-related reasons.

The Michigan Nurses Association, representing more than 13,000 nurses and health care staff statewide, also joined the call for executive pay cuts at McLaren. That union also represents at least 18 employees at McLaren Home Care in Greater Lansing and called for change last week. None of them have been furloughed, officials said. 

A spokesperson for McLaren said that 850 of their "top leaders" — including McLaren President and CEO Nancy Jenkins — have already taken pay cuts, though officials didn't specify whether those salaries are still above $1 million in a statement. Officials also clarified that no frontline healthcare workers have been laid off from their jobs, only placed on temporary furloughs. 

A recent press release from MNA officials also alleged that corporate officials at McLaren had failed to “work adequately with registered nurses” on a COVID-19 response plan. The association has since called for additional protections like paid time off and assistance for their laid-off employees.

MNA officials also said employees at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing have also been given options to volunteer for a temporary leave of absence — with a promise they can return to work by June 1 — through either a new furlough program or a temporarily extended childcare leave program.  Calls and emails to corporate offices at Sparrow were not returned. 


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