Union nurses at St. Joe’s in Joliet still struggling to sort out payroll discrepancies

Donna Gholson: ‘To me, this doesn’t seem to be that hard of a thing to be fixed’

AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center Joliet

Donna Gholson never dreamed she’d be fighting for her pay, not with 32 years of working as a registered nurse at AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet.

But Gholson, a Wilmington resident who works on the neuro stepdown unit at St. Joe’s, said she was not paid for Dec. 12 when she worked 12.25 hours. Gholson said she also had her check illegally garnished Jan. 28 for the amount of $794.22.

John Fitzgerald, staff specialist for Illinois Nurses Association, said the check was garnished illegally because Gholson did not agree to the garnishing. He also said the manner in which the check was garnished was against the collective bargaining agreements with the union.

On Monday, Gholson finally received an email that she would be paid for Dec. 12 on her March 11 paycheck.

Gholson said she filed a complaint with the Department of Labor about three weeks ago. She’s also talked to a DOL representative, who told her they will send a letter to St. Joe’s, but the hospital has 30 days to reply.

“But they [DOL] said, ‘Honestly, it could take up to two years if the hospital fights it,’ ” Gholson said.

Ransomware attack on timekeeping system

Gholson’s paycheck woes stem from a Dec. 11 ransomware attack on the timekeeping system used by AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center. The system from Ultimate Kronos Group that was impacted was back up and running at St. Joe’s on Jan. 11.

Fitzgerald said St. Joe’s has fixed most of the union nurses’ underpayments. But discrepancies still remain in the area of vacation accruals. Some nurses are having their checks garnished for overpayments.

“They [the union nurses] have the right to dispute their claims,” Fitzgerald said.

A Feb. 18 Herald-News story said the union wanted AMITA Health to give nurses the opportunity to meet with a “knowledgeable decision-maker” and individually review their pay, Fitzgerald said.

He said St. Joe’s still hasn’t offered a streamlined way for nurses to dispute claims or, at the very least, double-check that St. Joe’s calculations are correct. Meaning, these nurses don’t know with whom, under what terms and under what type of following can these claims be disputed, he said.

Fitzgerald said he feels as if St. Joe’s goal is “administrative burnout” of the union so that it can “steal from these hundreds of workers.” In January, the union filed a complaint with St. Joe’s.

Gholson said when Kronos went down, St. Joe’s estimated the nurses’ pay. Gholson said she gets paid every two weeks, so she received three estimated checks. Hours were logged manually in a binder that had the nurses’ names in it, she said.

Once Kronos was restored at St. Joe’s, managers took that information and entered it into the system, Gholson said. The information included details such as shift differentials and, in Gholson’s case, the extra pay for serving as a charge nurse on Dec. 12, she said.

Once the details were entered, nurses were give two days to review the information, Gholson said. Gholson said she was off work because she had laryngitis and her manager had taken a vacation day.

Gholson said she could see the information for the first and last pay period but not the middle one. So Gholson said she contacted the manager entering the information and asked for a screenshot.

“She said she would,” Gholson said. “But she never did.”

The fight to make it right

When Gholson wasn’t paid for Dec. 12, she texted her manager. Gholson said she was told no information was entered for that day, so the system defaulted to a “no call, no show” entry.

Gholson said her manager said she would fix it on the following Monday. But when Monday rolled around, Gholson said she was told the system was frozen and that the information could be entered on Wednesday when it opened back up.

Then Gholson received a letter from St. Joe’s that she was overpaid $904.08, and that amount would be applied toward repayment on her Jan. 28 check. Gholson said she was garnished $794.22. and that St. Joe’s said she still owes the hospital $109.86.

“But I kept trying to tell them, ‘You still owe me money from the day I was marked as ‘no call, no show,’ ” Gholson said.

Gholson said if St. Joe’s had paid her on time for Dec. 12, she would have owed the hospital “maybe $50” in repayments. But now that Gholson’s check’s been garnished, St. Joe’s owes her money, she said.

“To me, this doesn’t seem to be that hard of a thing to be fixed,” Gholson said.

Gholson said she is the single mother of two adult sons who are in college. Because Gholson has a savings account, the errors in her paycheck were not devastating to her financially.

“But not everybody is as fortunate as me,” Gholson said.

AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center did not respond to messages from The Herald-News.