NFFE Local 589 Members Call for Change at Jackson VA Medical Center
After years of frustration with understaffing, mismanagement, and a hostile work environment, NFFE Local 589 physicians are calling for change at the G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery VA Medical Center.
In recent months, Local officials have joined together with other unions at the facility to fight back against a management culture that has diminished employee morale and deprived physicians of the tools they need to care for our nation’s veterans.
In a recent survey conducted by the Local, the extent of the management issue was brought to light. A full 98 percent of physicians polled said that morale at Jackson is not where it should be. Another 85 percent said that staffing shortages had affected their excellent delivery of care to veterans. Worse yet, 67 percent of physicians who responded said that they personally knew of instances in which management decisions to cut costs decreased the quality of care for our veterans.
With this information in hand, Local President Joe Simon, penned a letter to Veterans’ Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki calling for the removal of the top five management officials at the facility.
“Physician trust in our current facility leadership’s character and competence is now beyond repair,” said Simon in his July 10th letter to the Secretary. “Our leadership has created a culture of privilege and intimidation. Medical care providers are viewed as objects to be manipulated to achieve performance targets by any means necessary.”
Earlier this month, Local officials were invited to meet with the VISN 16 director to discuss the management issues at the facility. Unfortunately, the VA failed to make a commitment to change the leadership in Jackson, a move that Simon believes will further strain labor-management relations at the facility.
NFFE Local 589 represents nearly 500 physicians, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, and other medical professionals at the G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery VA Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi.