UPDATE II- Tentative & New Three-Year Master Contract Reached By Three Unions At Kaleida Health In Buffalo Called A “Historic” Local Health Care Labor Agreement
New Contract Covers 7,500 Workers Represented By Communications Workers Of America Local 1168, 1199 SEIU Healthcare Workers East & International Union Of Operating Engineers Local 17
(BUFFALO) – After what was described as “three months of cordial, good-faith negotiations,” a tentative and new three-year Master Contract Agreement that was reached early Saturday (June 18th) between three Labor Unions that combine to represent 7,500 Kaleida Health Employees in Downtown Buffalo’s growing medical corridor is being described as an “historic” local health care Labor agreement, Communications Workers of America (CWA) District 1 Area Director Deb Hayes told WNYLaborToday.com.
CWA Local 1168 (which represents 4,000 of the total 7,500 Union Members), 1199 Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Workers East and International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 17 represent those impacted Kaleida Health Workers.
The tentative agreement was brought about after 17 weeks of negotiations, the Labor Leaders said. Labor and management began bargaining in early March and through nearly 24 negotiating sessions reached tentative agreement on more than 100 articles, Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) and letters - including all economic and non-economic issues in the contract, according to a distributed news release. The current contract impacting the 7,500 Kaleida Health Workers came to an end on May 31st.
The tentative and new Master Contract calls for wage increases and hiring additional front-line staff, while at the same time - making changes to work rules to better serve the patients across the hospitals and services at Kaleida Health, the Unions and Kaleida Management said in a released statement.
Because the agreement must be ratified Union Membership in the coming weeks, full and additional details of the contract were not immediately released.
Ratification voting is expected to occur in the next few weeks, Union Officials said.
“Negotiations are always ‘difficult,’” Hayes told Your On-Line Labor Newspaper over the weekend after negotiations wound up at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday “But the Bargaining Committee was ‘diligent and tough’ and I believe this is a ‘historic’ health care Labor agreement here in Western New York. I am ‘thrilled’ to have been part of the negotiations to bring this ‘historic agreement’ about.”
“No question about it - this shows ‘what can be done’ when Labor and management are on the ‘same page’ – focused on ‘high quality care’ for our patients and an employer that ‘wants do to right’ for its Workers,” added Hayes, tipping her cap to Kaleida Health President and CEO Jody Lomeo, who has worked to forge a positive relationship with Kaleida Health’s Union-represented Workforce over the course of time.
Kaleida Health CEO and President Lomeo said: “Our workforce has played a ‘significant and tangible role’ in the ‘transformation’ of Kaleida Health over the past two years. This new contract ‘recognizes’ their hard work and commitment. I am ‘confident’ that our Nursing Staff, Health Care Workers and Administrative Staff will ‘continue to help us grow’ while serving our community in the years ahead.”
Representatives of the individual Union Locals who represent Health Care Workers employed by Kaleida Health also commented on the new Master Contract Agreement:
“We did this by ‘working with’ Kaleida Health on a plan that ‘will address both’ the patients and the staff that are at the bedside,” CWA Local 1168 President Cori Gambini said. “I believe this will help Kaleida Health continue to be ‘the employer of choice’ for Health Care Workers and the ‘best choice’ for the community to seek medical care.”
“After seventeen weeks of negotiations that culminated in an ‘historic’ agreement, this ‘further illustrates what management and labor can achieve when they work together toward a common goal,’” IUOE Local 17 Business Agent Marty Burchalewski said.
“We are ‘pleased’ to announce that we’ve reached a new tentative agreement with Kaleida Health,” 1199 SEIU/Western New York Hospital Division Vice President Jim Scordato said. “The parties worked ‘long and hard’ for many months to craft an agreement that will ‘continue to provide the best wages and benefits of any’ health contract in Western New York.”