REGION — Tri-City Medical Center workers were out in force at Oceanside’s Farmers Market on Jan. 21 to collect signatures to bring forward a ballot initiative to cap hospital administrators’ pay.
The union group’s ballot proposal limits top salaries at the community-funded hospital to $250,000 a year, and asks for annual publication of highest salaries.
“We’re trying to cap the pay of executive administrators at the public hospital,” Mel Porter, 12-year hospital EVS, said. “They’re paid with tax dollars. We don’t think it’s right.”
Tri-City Medical Center serves Carlsbad, Oceanside and Vista.
Registered voters approached on Jan. 23 were very supportive of the ballot initiative. Comments ranged from empathy for hospital frontline workers, to wanting changes in all professions to ensure pay equity.
Grace Samborski, of Oceanside, said she signed the ballot initiative because she heard of top positions getting all the money, and patient care suffering.
“All the money is going to the top, that’s the way life is now,” Samborski said.
Workers who were out collecting signatures also had concerns about a recent administrator pay raise, and cutbacks in employee perks.
Tri-City Medical Center is staying tight lipped about accusations, which is leaving workers and the public with a one-sided picture of the issue.
Some demands of workers seem doable, such as publication of administrators’ salaries, which is public record and can be researched. The hospital has not stepped forward to share salaries.
Records of 2013 community hospital administrators’ salaries dug up by Tri-City workers union group, SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, list Tri-City CEO Tim Moran’s salary at $456,000 annually.
Moran ranked seventh highest in pay out of 37 California public healthcare districts.
Other community hospital CEO salaries ranged from $84,000 to $762,000 a year, with most paid in the $200,000 to $300,000 range.
Moran currently earns $525,000 a year.
Tri-City also has one of the highest bed counts.
Other accusations of workers like administrator salary increases and diminished worker perks warrant an explanation, especially to clear up those that are false or misunderstood. The hospital has not released a response, and there currently are no plans to do so.
A survey of 500 area voters, conducted last year, showed 83 percent support an initiative to cap hospital top salaries.
“The public is very concerned about excessive salaries,” Sean Wherley, media relations for SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, said. “It’s the public’s charge to hold them accountable for the best patient care, keeping prices in check.”
David Bennett, Tri-City’s chief marketing officer, said Tri-City Medical Center pays fair market value for all employees at the hospital, and had no further comments.
Workers have been in salary negotiations with the hospital since April 2015. There is no estimate from either side on when a contract settlement could be reached.
Workers need to collect 14,000 signatures by June to put the initiative on the November ballot.