Union moves forward on initiative to cap executive pay at hospital

Members of El Camino Hospital's workers' union are moving forward on their plan to seek a legislative cap on executive pay.

United Healthcare Workers West, a branch of the SEIU, sent signature collectors out into Mountain View yesterday, Feb. 8, with the aim of gathering support for a ballot initiative that would put a legal limit on how much El Camino could pay its top administrators.

The initiative proposes that no executive at the hospital or within the hospital district could be paid more than twice the salary of California's governor. Gov. Jerry Brown current salary is $173,987 -- a reduction in the allowed governor's salary from 2007, which was $212,179.

Tomi Ryba, the El Camino Hospital's recently hired CEO is being paid $695,000 annually -- nearly double what she would be allowed to make if the proposed legislation were to go into effect today.

After sending signature collectors out into the community, the union held a candle light vigil rally in front of the hospital at 6 p.m. to raise awareness for their cause.

According to Carlyn Foster, a representative with the SEIU-UHW, the union has collected about 5,100 signatures to date. They need 9,100 in order to get their initiative on the November 2012 ballot.

Foster said the union's goal is collect 14,000 signatures and complete all the necessary paperwork by March 1.

Plans for the ballot initiative were first announced in October 2011. In explaining the impetus for the initiative, officials with the SEIU-UHW have cited cuts to worker benefits -- including the elimination of the hospital's free healthcare plan and reductions to overtime pay -- along with the news of Ryba's salary, which union representative Carlyn Foster said is excessive.

However, according to a study conducted by Ron Shinkman, editor-in-chief of the health care industry publication "Payers and Providers, Ryba's salary is less than the average annual income of non-profit hospital CEOs in California. In his 2010 assessment, Shinkman found that the average pay of such executives in the state was $732,000.

Chris Ernst, a spokeswoman with El Camino, defended Ryba's salary in an email.

"El Camino Hospital stands behind the careful and methodic approach taken by our board members to determine executive compensation that is reasonable and well within the bounds of competitive practice in the not-for-profit health care industry," Ernst wrote.


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 9, 2012 at 4:04 pm

What a bunch of Marxists. Who is John Galt?

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Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 9, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Ayn Rand collected Social Security under her real name.

Crony capitalism is exactly what's wrong with this country. It seems that Ayn Rand and her cult followers missed the 1800s, but they needn't worry: Objectivist Utopia is alive and well in Somalia.

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Posted by steve
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 9, 2012 at 4:57 pm

@Old Ben I'm actually not a proponent of Objectvism nor laissez faire capitalism. I do believe that Rand has many excellent points in Atlas Shrugged, regardless of her underlying philosophy or personal failings.

I used "Who is John Galt" tongue in cheek as a an expression of helplessness and despair at the current state of affairs - which is how the average person in the book used the expression

Crony capitalism is just one of the problems with the country. The more serious problem is captured perfectly by de Tocqueville: "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money"

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Posted by DS
a resident of another community
on Feb 10, 2012 at 9:18 am

Fine, lower the CEO salary. She will leave and be replaced by a person with less experience and ability. Fine.

Then see what you get.

Leadership makes a difference.

Wonder how many of these union members would eat at a restaurant they once enjoyed if they learned the executive chef left and was replaced by a dishwas
her from Taco Bell. Wonder of Apple would now be the top US company without Steve Jobs.

This is so stupid, it's almost laughable.

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Posted by CEOsalaries
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 10, 2012 at 11:46 am

Oooh, good point, DS. Leadership does make a difference. I propose that all CEO's salaries should be equal to Steve Jobs' salary (which, as you obviously recall, was $1 per year).

I'd also propose: No more million dollar bonuses for running a company into the ground. No more golden parachutes for running a company into the ground. Normal people get fired if they don't perform their job duties; why do CEOs get golden parachutes?

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Posted by IHT
a resident of another community
on Feb 10, 2012 at 8:00 pm

If you are referring to the former CEO, please check your facts. The hospital was not run into the ground. The hospital financials are published in the local papers and you can access updated information on hospital financials by attending open board meetings or by viewing videotaped board meetings online.At the end of last FY, the hospital financials were very strong. If the board had had cause to fire him that would have saved us all $1M. We had to pay out his severance because he was fired "without cause". I also am very angry that someone is now sitting and collecting close to $1M for doing nothing, but that's the fault of this board who is incapable of making logical decisions or providing any rationale to their actions. As Mr. Reader said last year when questioned about the CEO's dismissal, "we may never know why we did what we did." WHAT? You made a decision costing us $1M and you don't know why you did that? It's this board that needs to be fired!

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Posted by PH
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2012 at 10:39 am

I think the point here is that the working person is facing cuts across the board that are making it hard to just pay their bills while those at the top remain in good financial condition with most of the things their employees need taken for granted. It is true that you get what you pay for and the old CEO being fired was probably a bad decision. I see the hospital's board as the real problem, not the union, employees or CEO. We have the good fortune to have a great community hospital and need to see that it remains the place to go for our medical needs. The way I see this attempt to cap the CEO's salary is an attempt to draw attention to the way the board routinely ignores the needs of the employees and blames them for bad management while continung to take care of upper management and not really finding solutions to the problems at hand. I understand that other corporate officers with similar jobs make as much or more, but the question I have is what the reason would be to let a more qualified and better CEO go and hire someone of less qualification to replace him. I think maybe he wasn't the anti-employee, anti-union person they needed to do their bidding. This has the feel of the anti-union, anti-employee attacks that are the way of doing business these days. It really is too bad we can't see the harm in making our nation a two class society. It is time to take a hard look at the board members and decide if we want them to be the ones to make such important decisions or replace them with others who might do a better job. We don't need well paid exectives and board members who don't understand the situation creating an environment of distrust and unrest among the employees who need to have no worries except the things they can do to give us better health care. They earn their money with hard work and dedication and should be well rewarded. I wouldn't want an unhappy employee to take care of me if I had a medical emergency. I want a highly paid, extremely professional and very motivated person. You don't get this by cutting their pay, benefits and hours or by taking advantage of the weak economy to claim they have to take it or else and refuse to sit down and negotiate fair and reasonable pay and benefits. You also don't get these problems resolved without strong, innovative and reasonable leadership. Don't take it out on the CEO, but let the board know they aren't doing their job. Use this action to limit the pay of the CEO as a wake up message to the board that the employees and our community cannot bear the burden of their actions any longer.

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Posted by IHT
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2012 at 12:29 pm

PH, I completely agree. Not only did this board higher a new CEO with less qualifications but they also upped the salary. So now we are paying one CEO's large severance and then the new, lesser qualified CEO even more money than him.....all for no reason that they can point to while they are saying there isn't money for employee needs and benefits. Without the employees you have no hospital to manage, folks.

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Posted by DS
a resident of another community
on Feb 12, 2012 at 10:00 pm

If you check the facts, the new CEO is more qualified than Ken Graham was, and he had a higher salary than she is getting. He got a bonus + salary and a golden parachute plus 1 year salary and benefits to go.
The Hospital Trustees are elected. If you care, VOTE.

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Posted by Blane
a resident of Gemello
on Feb 13, 2012 at 10:44 am

DS- Please enlighten us with your facts on the qualification of the new CEO vs Mr Graham. Id also like to see your facts on the salary comparison as this too if not accurate. If your gonna tell us to check the facts you better make sure you know what you are talking about! Graham got a package becuase he was fired without cause so if anything you need to take the cost of that move and add it to the benefit package of the new CEO to see what the move really cost us.....and oh yeah figure in a few hundred grand in head hunter fees to find the new CEO while your at it.

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Posted by CEOsalaries
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 13, 2012 at 10:53 am

Ok, I wasn't clear on this. My point was that you don't need to pay a CEO bazillions of dollars to get a great one. And paying a CEO bazillions of dollars doesn't at all guarantee that you get even a moderately good one. CEO salaries simply do not reflect performance in any way. But shouldn't they?

I always hear that argument: "but we pay him/her only slightly more than average!" Well, next time, the average is going to be higher, so you need to pay them ever more and more, without getting any more value for the dollar. Let's see every hired nurse get paid slightly more than average instead! See how the quality of care might suddenly escalate...

I agree about the board's responsibilities here. They seem to be enamored with the brilliance of the person who's staring at them in the mirror.

So by the way, can anyone explain why a brand-new hospital needs to be repaired? Lousy planning (and who is responsible?), lousy construction (and how is responsible?), or what? How come the person(s) responsible don't get to pay for their mistakes?

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Posted by CEOsalaries
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 13, 2012 at 10:59 am

Uh, of course Ryba is paid "less than average". And obviously $695K is just barely sufficient to survive in the Bay Area. However, I believe the average has shot up in the last few years due to everyone paying their new CEOs "slightly more than average". I recall that that was the argument for the pay of the previous CEO.

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Posted by IHT
a resident of another community
on Feb 13, 2012 at 11:58 am

DS, I would love the opportunity to VOTE on these board members however in recent years they have either been appointed to their position or they have run for this "elected" seat uncontested so the position never even made it onto the ballot. Our community needs to wake up and insist on a more transparent board that will be accountable for their decisions and responsive to district constituents. More people need to run for the board so that there is a real election and so that the members sitting on the board feel some responsibility to those they represent.

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Posted by pat
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 13, 2012 at 7:58 pm

The previous CEO and current administrative team (without the new CEO) mentored the lowest employee saatisfaction surveys in the hisory of the hospital for the past 2 years running. For several months,in 2010 the hospital reported publically that the budget defecits for the hospital were in the negavite millions. The previous CEO and current VP's spent money on a new facitility that far exceeded those originally planned. For those in the community that comment without knowing the internal operations of the hosptial, I credit your concerns but question the validity of your comments. I am employee and I can assure you that cost cutting has hit hard for the non-management emplolyees. The RN and technical staff who run the actual HOSPITAL (not the fluff investments) have remained extraordinarily productive without thanks, credits or acknowledgement by the prior CEO. The new person is reportedly a much better listener and hoepfully, will clean the executive house when the new budget year arrives. As for money, how much profit should be made on the human frailty/ilnesses? The ethics of profits from money made from sick people is more worthy of discussion herein than the worthiness of CEO salaries and how they are benchmarked with other business CEO's.
As a society, are we really investigating the human healthcare money tree for hospitals, CEO's and the like???? Medicare is nearly bankrupt and we are talking about a "poor hopsital CEO" ? Where do you all think the majority of El Camino HOspital money comes from besides our medicare/Medical systems! A few private paying patients? Maybe, but not the majority of revenue!

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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Feb 14, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Who on earth will be CEO of hospital of this size. Would you get someone who will do a good job running this hospital.

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Posted by greg
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Feb 14, 2012 at 1:50 pm

The new hospital and its funding were in motion long before Graham took the job at El Camino. This is a fact. Your statement about Graham spending money above the budget and how that somehow lead to the deficient is simply not true. (hint Look at the structure of the funding for the new hospital and the timeline required to secure it) The hospital was in fact in a deficient situation and like the rest of the valley tough decisions had to be made to reduce costs in the economic down turn. Fortunately those decisions were made and stopped the bleeding and got the financials back on track. This is documented in the quarterly reports. This is what we pay top CEOs to do. If tough measures werent taken we would be in a world of hurt right now. Its business people and business boils down to the bottom line. Last time I checked no one has to thank you for doing your job, you get paid to do it. If you dont like it leave! Look around the valley over the last two years and your sob story about how horrible it was pales in comparison to what countless people experienced throughout the entire valley in all sorts of industries. Your comments about the new CEO being a listener is quite funny.....until the board is gone or their power is reshaped the CEO is at their mercy.

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Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 16, 2012 at 3:30 pm

I think it's hilarious that the same Unions that are always crying that their members should have no limits on their salaries are now trying to use the clubs of government and class-warfare to deny an individual from maximizing their earning opportunities simply because they are in an executive position. I think everyone should be free to choose. The executive can choose if the salary offered is enough. The Non-profit can choose what salary they want to pay an executive. The people can choose if they want to go to a hospital or not based on how that hospital chooses to handle its business. Everyone should be happy! Let's hear it for freedom of choice!

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