Healthcare Workers Notify Kaleida of June 28 Strike Vote

June 14, 2011 Updated Jun 14, 2011 at 6:46 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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Healthcare Workers Notify Kaleida of June 28 Strike Vote

June 14, 2011 Updated Jun 14, 2011 at 6:46 PM EDT

Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- Union bargaining committee members represented by 1199 SEIU, CWA, and IUOE, informed Kaleida Health management on Tuesday that they have unanimously decided to bring a strike authorization vote to union membership on June 28th.

This notification to Kaleida management is not mandatory. Union leaders have extended this courtesy in the interest of protecting patient safety as bargaining continues in the face of the June 17th contract expiration. The unions continue to bargain in good faith, hoping to work toward an agreement that will protect Buffalo patients in the years ahead.

CWA Local 1168 President John Klein and 1199 SEIU Vice President Jim Scordato issued the following statement:

“Hospital systems around the country have de-emphasized patient care and patient safety to cut corners and save money. Throughout these contract negotiations, CWA 1168, 1199 SEIU, and IUOE have focused on the need to protect high-quality patient care for Western New Yorkers.

“We proposed a staffing plan as part of the contract that guarantees Kaleida hospitals provide the Buffalo area with accessible care, based on safe staffing practices, but Kaleida Health rejected the proposal.

“As frontline caregivers we know how important it is to have a properly staffed team. We believe that in order to protect high-quality patient care, Kaleida management should accept the staffing plan presented at the bargaining table

“Like everyone involved in health care today, we are all tightening our belts -- but what Kaleida has put on the bargaining table in its healthcare and benefit proposal is extreme.

“Just like the patients we fight for and care for, healthcare workers need access to quality, affordable healthcare. In order to provide great care to our patients we have to take care of our healthcare workers now and in the future. If hospital management wants Kaleida to be a national leader, we have to have to be able to attract the best and brightest to Buffalo – and management’s current proposal surely won’t achieve that goal.

“We have notified Kaleida of our June 28th vote to authorize a strike. With less than a week left of bargaining, we continue to negotiate in good faith and want nothing more than to settle this contract. We are working hard on an agreement that protects our patients and our profession in the years ahead.”

Later Tuesday, Kaleida Health issued its own statement in response.

It reads:

“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. Simply put, we do not want a strike. In the event the unions approve the vote and authorize a strike, Kaleida Health has developed contingency plans to ensure that we can continue to deliver safe, quality care to those who depend on us.”