BUFFALO (WKBW) — Kaleida Health and their employee unions, CWA Local 1168 and 1199SEIU, headed back to the table on Monday trying to iron out a new contract for local health care workers.
The two sides are trying to come to an agreement after the most recent contract extension was allowed to expire at the end of July.
"Negotiations are cordial. We are working through issues. We have sub-committees working on a lot of different parts of the contract", Jim Scordato, the 1199SEIU VP for WNY Hospitals, told 7 News.
The primary concerns from the unions continues to be staffing levels and working conditions inside the Kaleida facilities. Union leaders believe better wages and incentives will help with recruitment and retention which will increase the quality of care for all.
"Wages and benefits, we are far apart in those areas," Cori Gambini, CWA Local 1168 President, told 7 News. "We proposed a retention bonus because Kaleida and other hospitals have sign-on bonuses for new people coming in, but nothing is being offered to keep experience professionals bed side"
Union members are also calling on New York State to increase funding for Kaleida to help the health care system afford "a fair contract".
"The state has to help this community, the Western New York area in regard to reimbursements. That is what has to happen," added Scordato. "Can Kaleida, will Kaleida eventually settle this contract without state money? Probably. The problem is where will Kaleida be a year from now? Where is Kaleida in two years from now in regards to finances?"
Contacted by 7 News Kaleida released the following statement.
“The negotiating teams have made a lot of progress over the last several months. We will continue our work to achieve a new master agreement that enhances benefits for all employees and restores us as the market leader in wages to help retain and recruit employees."
“We have said all along that we need to and will address staffing and wages in this contract. But the cost of doing that will be at least twice of what we spent for the master bargaining agreement in 2019. Considering our current financial condition and the enormous economic challenges in front of us, that’s significant."
Union leaders tell 7 News that negotiations will continue.