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Unions To Hold Community Protest On Monday, April 4th Over Kaleida Health’s Decision To Close The Mattina Community Health Care Center On Buffalo’s West Side – Labor Leaders Say Negotiations On New Master Contract With Kaleida Are “Not Going Well”

CWA Local 1168 President John Klein & 1199 SEIU Vice President James Scordato Tell Area Union Leaders That Kaleida Seeks A Number Of Major Concessions & That Unions “Are In For A Fight”/Adds CWA’s Klein: “(Kaleida) Really Doesn’t Care”

Published Thursday, March 31, 2011 3:00 pm
by Tom Campbell/Editor-Publisher
Unions To Hold Community Protest On Monday, April 4th Over Kaleida Health’s Decision To Close The Mattina Community Health Care Center On Buffalo’s West Side – Labor Leaders Say Negotiations On New Master Contract With Kaleida Are “Not Going Well”

(BUFFALO) – A major protest will be held on Monday, April 4th outside the slated-for-closure Judge Joseph S. Mattina Community Health Care Center on Buffalo’s West Side – which will coincide with hundreds of “We Are One” observances and rallies that will occur across the Nation that day to commemorate the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the current attack on the rights of Working People.  Union Leaders involved in master contract negotiations with Kaleida Health say Kaleida does not want to serve “certain segments” of the Buffalo Community and that Kaleida Employees “are in for a fight” to achieve a new and fair agreement.

Kaleida’s master contract negotiations began in early March and involve three Buffalo Unions that represent a majority of its employees - the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).  Nearly 85% of Kaleida’s 10,000 employees are Labor-Represented.  The two master agreements cover about 7,800 Kaleida Health Employees and are in effect until May 31st.  Kaleida is Western New York’s largest Health System, which operates Buffalo General, DeGraff and Millard Fillmore hospitals.  Approximately 900 other Kaleida Employees are covered by Collective Bargaining Agreements with other expiration dates and will not be involved in these negotiations, Union Officials said.

Monday’s protest outside the Mattina Community Center comes after representatives of two of the three Unions involved in negotiating a new master contract with Kaleida told area Labor Leaders that the talks “are not going well” and that Kaleida “really doesn’t care” about bargaining a fair contract with its Union-Represented Workforce.

“We’ve met six times and (Kaleida) wants everything that will (negatively) impact everyone, from housekeepers to pharmacists.  They want to freeze pensions.  They want a major benefit shift where employees would be paying much more for their Health Care and they want changes in work rules,” CWA (Communications Workers of America) Local 1168 President John Klein, who is one of a 60-Union Member Bargaining Team, told area Labor Leaders at the annual Western New York AFL-CIO Area Labor Federation (WNYALF) meeting Saturday.  “All this - even though (Kaleida CEO James) Kaskie is paid two-point-two-million dollars and the top fifteen highest-paid Kaleida officials make a combined nine-million dollars – at a non-profit!”

Buffalo-based 1199 SEIU Healthcare Workers East Vice President James Scordato told Labor Leaders the Unions that collectively represent Kaleida Employees have “set the standard” over the years for all Health Care Workers across Western New York, but admitted he believes Labor is “in for a fight” - which could get as bad as a major and prolonged strike that occurred at Buffalo General Hospital in early 80s.  “All I can unfortunately tell you is stay tuned,” he said.

Under the rallying call of Our Community Deserves More - Not Less, a great number of Union Workers and Community Residents are expected to take part in Monday’s protest outside the Mattina Community Health Care Center at 300 Niagara Street on Buffalo’s West Side. 

A flier being distributed across the Western New York Labor Community for the rally – which begins at 4 p.m., reads: “Let us remember what Dr. Martin Luther King said: ‘Of all forms of inequality, injustice in Health Care is the most shocking and inhumane.  Kaleida has announced that no matter what, they’re closing the Judge Mattina (Niagara Family) Community Health Care Center.  It's the same old story!  Millionaire County Executive Chris Collins shuts down primary care services.  Now Millionaire CEO James Kaskie of the non-profit Kaleida Health is closing the Mattina Community Health Center.  Even though both men run institutions whose mission is to do ‘public good,’ do they stand up for the community’s well-being?  No!  What do they care?  They don't have to worry about their personal access to Health Care and the financial well-being of ‘their’ families.  They don't care about continuing good jobs in the community.  ‘They’ just got another Tax Cut courtesy of the New York State Budget!  Our Community Deserves More - Not Less”

“Kaleida is choosing to close clinics that serve the community,” CWA’s Klein told Union Leaders at the WNYALF meeting.  “Kaleida doesn’t care.  They’re walking away.  We have to stop these attacks on Working People and our community.  Kaleida doesn’t want to serve certain segments of our community and Kaleida doesn’t care about certain people in our community anymore.”

Added 119 SEIU’s Scordato: “The positive thing is that ‘We Are One!’  We have sixty people on the Kaleida Bargaining Committee representing the interests of all three Unions and we are unified.  We’ve stuck together and it’s good to see one Union sticking up for the interests of another and vice versa at the bargaining table with Kaleida.”

Dr. King was assassinated on April 4th, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was standing with Sanitation Workers who were fighting for their dream of a better life.  Because the right to bargain collectively for a Voice At Work and for a Middle-Class Life are under attack as never before, hundreds of rallies will be held across the United States on Monday, Union Officials added, as the Working Class stands in solidarity with Working People in the States of Wisconsin and Ohio, as well as a number of other States where corporate-bought politicians are trying to take away the rights that Dr. King gave his life for.

More than 100 Nurses, Lab Technicians and other Health Care Workers had kicked off contract negotiations with Kaleida Health on Wednesday, March 2nd with a rally that focused on the need to protect high-quality patient care for Western New Yorkers.

At the rally, billboards (pictured above) that are located outside Kaleida hospitals around the community were unveiled by the Unions involved in negotiations.  They carry the message: “The Workers of Kaleida Health… Caring For You… Tell Kaleida Management We Matter.”  The billboards also feature several photos of Kaleida’s Union-Represented Employees.

The Health Care Workers, represented by CWA, called on Kaleida Health system not to cut corners on patient care.  “Quality, affordable patient care is our number one concern.  Kaleida must give us the tools we need to care for our community,” CWA Local 1168’s Klein said at the time.  Local 1168 Vice President Gambini, a Registered Nurse, added: “We look forward to continuing our good relationship with Kaleida.  We’re hopeful hey will come into these negotiations with the same goals we have – maintaining the care we provide for our patients.”

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