Providence not resolving payroll errors fast enough, union says

Providence healthcare workers in Northern California said they have lost hundreds to thousands of dollars due to payroll errors that the health system has not resolved in the contractually required 48 hours.

In an Aug. 5 news release shared with Becker's, the union representing members at six hospitals said that since July 8, some healthcare workers haven't received their paychecks or received paychecks missing hundreds or thousands of dollars. Errors, including reductions in base pay, missing pay, unpaid hours of work and missing retirement contributions occurred July 8, July 22 and Aug. 5, the National Union of Healthcare Workers stated.

Although the union contract requires Providence to correct payroll errors within 48 hours, the health system has not systematically remedied the problem, instead telling workers to submit "tickets" to address errors, the union said.

The union filed class-action grievances July 8, and since then has filed more grievances about the matter.

"We can't get anyone on the phone or talk with anyone who has the authority to solve these problems," Michele Steinberg, an emergency room patient access representative at Queen of the Valley Medical Center, said in the union news release. "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. Yet no one at Providence seems particularly concerned."

Providence spokesperson Melissa Tizon told Becker's via email that the health system implemented a new system in early July to improve and streamline administrative processes that included payroll. Since implementing the new system, "the vast majority of pay checks that have been issued are correct," she said. "However, there are some that have shown incorrect or partial pay. This is something we take incredibly seriously and recognize that providing accurate and timely pay is one of the fundamental roles we play as an employer.

"We have been resolving these issues as quickly as we can by researching each discrepancy and running off-cycle paycheck batches one to two times a day with the correct retroactive pay," Ms. Tizon stated.

Most pay issues were resolved as of Aug. 5, but there are some discrepancies Providence is working to resolve, including providing retroactive pay as quickly as possible, Ms. Tizon stated.

The health system is providing short-term interest-free loans for those affected by the remaining outstanding issues, she said.

"We are deeply sorry that we have missed the mark or created any kind of hardship or anxiety for caregivers and their families," said Ms. Tizon. "We are absolutely committed to doing everything we can to resolve the remaining outstanding issues as quickly as possible. We also remain profoundly grateful to our caregivers for their patience and for all they do to serve patients in need."

The National Union of Healthcare Workers represents 16,000 healthcare workers in California, including at six Northern California Providence facilities — St. Joseph (Eureka), Redwood Memorial (Fortuna), Santa Rosa Memorial, Petaluma Valley, and Queen of the Valley Medical Center (Napa).

Providence is a health system with 52 hospitals in seven states.

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