BUFFALO, N.Y. — On Monday, Kaleida healthcare workers represented by CWA and 1199SEIU delivered a 10-day notice to the Kaleida Health administration of an informational picket.
At the end of July, the union workers did not extend their contracts. The unions say competitive wages and staffing levels are key concerns.
Negotiations began for a new contract in March, but went to five days a week on Monday, Aug. 1. The unions representing the workers report the committee is meeting five days a week in hopes of reaching an agreement.
The public information picket is scheduled to take place outside of Buffalo General Medical Center and Oishei Children’s Hospital on Thursday, Aug. 18.
The information picket will call attention to the issues the workers have identified, including low staffing issue.
“Over the last three years, healthcare workers have been fighting a global pandemic tirelessly all while being short-staffed,” Jim Scordato, 1199SEIU Vice-President for WNY Hospitals said in a press release. “After five months of bargaining, we need to educate the public on how difficult it has been for these union workers to secure a new contract. Our members have been working short-staffed far too long and in unacceptable working conditions. The state’s newly created staffing law forces Kaleida to add more than 400 full-time equivalent positions on top of the more than 800 vacancies they currently have, but all without any financial support from the state to help fill those positions. The state needs to come to the table for all of our WNY Hospitals, not just Kaleida, and put money behind those jobs, so hospital workers can get some relief from day after day of working critically short staffed.”
Kaleida Health released the following statement:
“This is certainly a right of theirs as part of negotiations; in fact, it is often a normal part of the collective bargaining process. Even if the informational picket occurs, it does not mean that negotiations have broken down. Talks remain cordial and we are joint problem solving.
“In March, we committed to three objectives as part of this contract: no concessions, plus addressing staffing and wages. We have not wavered from that commitment. As far as economic proposals, we have exchanged proposals but are still quite far apart. The unions’ initial proposal would cost us eight times (8x) of what we spent on the 2019 contract. We expect a revised proposal from the unions soon, which will allow us to continue to have productive negotiations.
“Our goal is to get back to the market lead and be the employer of choice. That means getting us to the recently signed Catholic Health System labor contract. That is the market standard right now. But the cost of doing that will be at least twice of what we spent for the contract in 2019. Considering our current financial condition and the enormous economic challenges in front of us, that’s problematic. All that said, we will continue negotiate in good faith until we can reach an agreement.”
Below is a list of Kaleida Health hospitals in our region:
- Bradford Regional Medical Center
- Buffalo General Medical Center
- Gates Vascular Institute
- Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital
- Oishei Children's Hospital