BUFFALO, NY-- Three unions representing 7,000 Kaleida Healthcare workers in Western New York will begin voting today on whether or not to call for a work stoppage.
If members vote in favor, it would allow the union the option of giving Kaleida a 10-day strike notice.
Both sides are working under an extended agreement that expires June 21st and are working with a federal mediator. Workers will vote between now and Wednesday.
Kaleida issued this statement Monday:
Michael P. Hughes, Vice President for Kaleida Health said, "While we are disappointed with the union's decision, Kaleida Health management will continue to bargain in good faith with the primary objective of completing a new contract without any work stoppage. Management is not in favor of a work stoppage, but has contingency plans in place to ensure that we can continue to deliver safe, quality care to those that depend on us in the event the unions authorize a strike."
"We are willing to, and we have, offered new dollars to our employees. We have done that in proposed increases in wages, pension, benefits, paid time off and parking. We have also proposed decreases in employee health care contributions and out of pocket prescription drug costs. It may not be as much as the unions want, but it equals more than we made last year. We just cannot agree to proposals that might put us out of business in less than one year."
Kaleida Health and the three unions held 30 bargaining sessions since negotiations began in March 2013. To date, the parties have reached tentative agreement on 143 articles, which represents the majority (90%) of all articles in the contract.
A strike authorization vote is a frequently utilized tactic by unions in negotiations. It allows (but does not require), via their by-laws and constitutions, the union bargaining committee to call a strike after the contract expires, if they deem a work stoppage is necessary
In the event a strike vote is authorized by the membership, the union may then issue Kaleida Health management a notice of intent to strike in 10 days. Therefore, no job action can occur until after June 21, 2013.
Management and labor are scheduled to resume bargaining on June 13, 2013.
The master bargaining agreement between Kaleida Health and the three unions covers over 7,000 employees. It was a two year contract that expired at midnight on May 31, 2013. The contract has been extended until June 21, 2013.