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Lifespan continues to deny hazard pay to frontline workers, rewards managers



Lifespan should know better, and Dr. Babineau should be ashamed of playing favorites with federal stimulus money.

Lifespan continues to refuse hazard pay for frontline hospital workers during the COVID pandemic, but this week awarded a one-time “monetary bonus” to managers who “rose to meet the challenges of the last year.” United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP) Local 5098 represents approximately 2,700 nurses, technologists, therapists and mental health workers at Rhode Island and Hasbro Children’s Hospitals. UNAP Local 5098 confirmed these bonuses after receiving a copy of an email from email from Lifespan President Dr Timothy Babineau to a member of the leadership team identifying individuals within the health system for a “special management compensation” program.

With no sense of irony, in the letter Babineau writes, “I’ve often said that crisis reveals character…”

“Anyone working in a hospital or clinical environment during this pandemic continues to put themselves and their loved ones at risk for the sake of providing care to others. We don’t dispute that many managers have performed with distinction during these difficult times, but we adamantly believe that the sacrifices and commitment of frontline health workers and support staff should be equally recognized by Lifespan,” said UNAP Local 5098 President Frank Sims.

In a press release, UNAP Local 5098 writes that the union formally requested hazard pay for union members battling the COVID-19 epidemic in April of this year, but were told the financial strain of the pandemic prevented Lifespan management from even considering such a request. To date, Lifespan has received $130 million in federal CARES Act relief money.

“UNAP members have worked tirelessly and gone above and beyond in this last year. We know what it means to deliver ‘health with care,’ and we’ll be the ones at the bedside — day in and day out — when this crisis is over,” said Sims. “Lifespan should know better, and Dr Babineau should be ashamed of playing favorites with federal stimulus money.”

In a statement, Lifespan said, in part, “These are one-time rewards that are not annualized into a salary and do not have any impact on annual merit increases for non-management employees,”

Teamsters Local 251 is also calling out Lifespan, calling the company’s actions “disrespectful and a slap in the face to every Teamster that heroically risked their health and safety, and the health and safety of their families coming to work day in and day out to deliver health with care.”

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Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.