Vote to Strike

June 10, 2013 Updated Jun 10, 2013 at 8:42 AM EDT

By Jaclyn Asztalos

June 10, 2013 Updated Jun 10, 2013 at 8:42 AM EDT

Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW) - Over the next three days, 7,000 workers will vote to authorize a strike of Kaleida Health. If approved, workers must give a 10-day notice to Kaleida.

This would affect Women and Children's Hospital, Buffalo General Hospital and Millard Fillmore Suburban. There are many concerns for the union under the new proposal. They are concerned with the healthcare plan. Workers said they are not happy because they feel they are being forced to use Kaleida facilities. The union also wants more people on staff, along with pay increases.

"Our members made it clear this time that we need to see wage increases and improvement in our pension and just better language in some areas," Jim Scordato said.

Kaleida officials said the two sides agree on 90 percent of proposal and they are disappointed with the workers' decision strike.

"Management will continue to bargain in good faith with the primary objective of completing a new contract without any work stoppage," a spokesperson for Kaleida said.

Even if workers vote for the strike, it does not automatically mean there will be a strike. Both sides said they want to come to an agreement before the June 21st deadline.

Kaleida Health today released the following statement regarding the Communications Workers of America/AFL-CIO (CWA1168), International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE 17) and 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East strike vote:

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."

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