Employees stunned to learn job security gone

Published 10:31 am Wednesday, July 28, 2010

ASHLAND. Ky. — It was shock on top of grief when John Derek Barnhart of Ironton learned the job he had counted on for the past year and a half had been slashed.

Barnhart of Ironton was sitting in the gym of Dawson-Bryant High School for the start of the funeral of his friend Sgt. Justin Allen Tuesday morning when his KDMC supervisor contacted him that his job as a food service clerk had been cut to 20 hours a week.

“It was anger, shock, all of that,” Barnhart said Tuesday afternoon as he joined fellow members of the Service Employees International Union, District 1999, at a hurriedly called press conference at the Ashland Plaza Hotel.

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“I’m afraid I won’t have the money for next month to make my car payment and school.”

Barnhart, 23, is about a year and a half away from earning his bachelor’s degree in Web development and graphic design.

It was a scenario that in some fashion was played out with at least 102 full-time employees at one of the largest employers in the Tri-State when KDMC told 82 full-time workers that their jobs were gone and 20 that they were at part-time status.

Carol Selvage, a medical records secretary, has 22 and half years at the medical center and is also on the executive board of the union She came to work Tuesday to be told her job was gone.

“They took my badge and escorted me down to my locker,” Selvage said.

Because of her seniority, Selvage had bumping rights, meaning she could get a new job at KDMC.

However, she was given two choices Tuesday morning. That she says violates a provision in the union contract that allows employees three days before they have to make their decision on a new position.

“At a moment’s notice I had to choose,” she said.

Fearing that she would be terminated for insubordination, she had to make an immediate choice, she said.

“I could not refuse a direct order,” Selvage said.

Rob Johnson, union representative from Columbus, blasted the layoffs in light of the $31 million dollars of profit the medical center made last year.

He called Fred Jackson one of the highest paid hospital administrators in the region with a salary he said that is $1 million annually. Many of the jobs affected had wages of $12 to $14 an hour.

It is those figures that anger Barnhart.

“It is greed,” he said.

“Maybe he has a college education, but maybe other people are trying to get one, Barnhart said. “I’m nervous. The economy is bad. But I’ve started looking.”