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Caregivers blow whistle on Providence for unpaid wages

NewsAugust 12, 2022

On Tuesday, August 9, NUHW members at Providence hospitals across Northern California held a press conference about systemic payroll errors costing them and their colleagues thousands of dollars in lost wages over the past month. It received coverage in Becker’s Hospital Review, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, the Eureka Times-Standard. Several TV and radio stations including KTVU, KGO, and KQED in the Bay Area also covered the news conference.

Since July 8, NUHW-represented caregivers at St. Joseph Hospital Eureka, Redwood Memorial Hospital, Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, Petaluma Valley Hospital, and Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa either have not received paychecks or received multiple paychecks missing hundreds or thousands of dollars. Providence, one of the nation’s largest Catholic health chains, with 52 hospitals across seven states, has acknowledged the errors following a change to its payroll system, but has failed to correct them, leaving its employees struggling to make ends meet.

Patricia Flippen, a surgical technician at Redwood Memorial Hospital in Humboldt County, said that on July 8 she noticed her paycheck was missing 137 hours of on-call pay totaling more than $1,000. On her following paycheck, July 22, Flippen said she was missing another 82 hours of on-call pay, and she still hadn’t been paid her previous missing wages.

“I was very frustrated and stressed, and the financial strain was spilling over into the rest of my life,” Flippen said during the press conference. “My kids are counting on me, and I made some hard choices like skipping bills to ensure that I could cover my children’s basic necessities.”

At the press conference, NUHW members were joined by leaders of the California Nurses Association, which represents nurses in Humboldt County, and the Staff Nurse Association, which represents nurses at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

Under NUHW contracts, Providence is required to fix payroll errors within 48 hours, but the problem has lasted more than a month with no corrective action taken by the hospital.

“We can’t get anyone on the phone or talk with anyone who has the authority to solve these problems,” said Michele Steinberg, an emergency room patient access representative at Queen of the Valley. “Providence has expectations for us as ‘care partners’ and it is beyond frustrating when our most basic expectation of fair wages for fair work is not being met.”

“There is no excuse for an entity as big as Providence to not be able to pay its workers what we’re owed paycheck after paycheck,” said Chuck Desepte, an X-ray technologist at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. “We see every day how Providence is cutting corners by understaffing its hospitals. This is just another example of how Providence’s obsession with the bottom line is bad for patients and caregivers.”