Employees of Jackson Health System are closer to getting a 2 percent performance bonus after the trustees who oversee Miami-Dade’s public hospital network approved on Thursday a new deal with the labor unions.
Members of the Public Health Trust that runs Jackson met in special session and voted 4-1 for the agreement, which will require final approval from Miami-Dade commissioners, who meet next on March 4.
Trustees approved the pay bonus for Jackson’s nearly 10,000 employees following an hour-long, spirited debate over the hospital system’s still-precarious financial condition, the best use of public dollars and the most effective way to inspire employee morale and trust in management.
In total, the pay bonus, called a “gain-sharing’’ payment because Jackson CEO Carlos Migoya said he promised employees a “share” of any profit or budget surplus, will amount to about $10.8 million, or 1.67 percent of payroll for the year that ended Sept. 30.
Migoya noted that Jackson’s employees have not received any raises in the past three years, a concession from the labor unions as management and employees struggled to turn around the hospital system’s financial death spiral in 2010.
Migoya urged Jackson’s trustees to approve the deal, saying he will need employees to be fully engaged in an effort to rebrand the public hospital system’s image and attract more paying patients to help offset the financial burden of providing healthcare to so many uninsured.
“We need to make sure we have the right [benefits] in place so we have the best work force,’’ he said. “That is absolutely necessary to continue to make Jackson an attractive place.’’
But Joe Arriola, a Jackson trustee and former Miami city manager, was adamantly opposed to any employee bonus, especially because the hospital system has only 28 days cash on hand — far below the industry standard of about 150 days.
Jackson depends on an annual subsidy of about $350 million from Miami-Dade taxpayers, Arriola said, and county voters in November approved an $830 million bond referendum to publicly finance upgrades for the aging hospital system without knowing that a pay raise was in the works for employees.
“It is totally irresponsible,’’ Arriola said, “especially after we did not talk about this when we went to the voters to give us $830 million.’’
Arriola noted that, like all of Miami-Dade’s organized employees, Jackson workers will no longer have to contribute 5 percent of their base pay toward group healthcare costs — an unexpected change that occurred following a vote by Miami-Dade commissioners on Feb. 4, and one that will cost Jackson an additional $18 million for the year that will end on Sept. 30.
Michael Bileca, a Jackson trustee opposed to the pay bump, missed Thursday’s committee meeting but said he’s still against the bonus..
“It’s profit share or the healthcare benefits,’’ Bileca said, “not both.’’
Not all employees will be eligible for the pay bump, but those who are will receive it as one-time payment for last year’s financial performance, during which Jackson posted a $62 million surplus on an operating budget of about $1.5 billion.
Darryl Sharpton, chairman of the trust, said he voted for the pay bump because Migoya promised it will help motivate employees to achieve Jackson’s goals.
“I’m holding him personally accountable,’’ Sharpton said of Migoya, “to ensure those productivity and operational gains are realized.’’