Union Healthcare Workers Reach
3-year Tentative Agreement with Kaleida Health
Informational picket scheduled for today is cancelled.
At 12:30 am, on July 10, after months of tense negotiations, healthcare workers represented by three unions, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, CWA Local 1168, and IUOE Local 17 working within the Kaleida Health system reached a 3-year Tentative Agreement. As a result, the informational picket scheduled for today has been cancelled.
The 3-year Tentative Agreement covers some 7,200 workers including Nurse Practitioners, RNs, LPNs, Techs, Professionals, Service Workers, and Engineers working at Kaleida Health’s Oishei Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, DeGraff Memorial Hospital, Millard Fillmore Suburban, Buffalo General Medical Center, HighPointe on Michigan, and Kaleida Business Office. The prior contract expired in May following one extension when no agreement was reached between the two groups. Union officials had scheduled an informational picket this week to protest the lack of an agreement between the two sides, allowing members to inform the community about working conditions without a contract.
Workers from all three unions stood united for a fair contract! Jamel Gibbs, an Environmental Services aide at Oishei Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, said: “We needed a fair contract. We are the first line of defense against infection and cross-contamination in the hospital and we deserve a secure retirement after a lifetime of service.”
Healthcare workers save lives and staffing issues were at the heart of negotiations. Tamara Simpson, an RN at Buffalo General Hospital said: “I am not scared of much. I know exactly what to do to save lives. The only thing that scares me about being a nurse is not having what I need to do my job. Our patients deserve enough staff to be able to receive the care that they need. We needed to address staffing in this contract.”
Membership meetings will be scheduled in the next few weeks to inform and educate union members of changes that took place in this new labor agreement. Union officials, Jim Scordato of 1199SEIU and Cori Gambini of CWA 1168 believe the new deal provides for improved staffing levels, better wages, and gives members the opportunity to continue providing top notch quality care throughout the Kaleida Health system.
“We are happy with the agreement,” said Jim Scordato, 1199SEIU Vice-President. The union bargaining committee fully supports ratification of this agreement. President of CWA 1168, Cori Gambini added: “The bargaining committee fought long and hard to reach a good agreement with the support of an energized workforce.” Both Scordato and Gambini add that: “This contract will give us the ability to continue providing safe and quality care through strong staffing language, excellent wages, and benefits which include healthcare coverage. As a dedicated healthcare workforce, Gambini said: “We always remember that the patient is our purpose and the union is our voice. We are union strong.”
Erie County Executive Mark Polancarz, tweeted that “this is good for all: the workers, the hospital system and most importantly the patients from our region.”