Union-Represented Kaleida Health System Employees Ratify New Three-Year Contract - Bonus, Wage Increases & An Increase In Staffing Among Highlights Of Agreement That Impacts 7,200 CWA, SEIU & IUOE-Represented Workers
(BUFFALO, NEW YORK) – Throughout this week, 7,200 Union Health Care Workers - represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) 1168, 1199 Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Workers East and International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 17 - voted to accept a new three-year contract with Buffalo’s Kaleida Health System.
“We are ‘all excited that this is over,’” CWA Local 1168 President Cori Gambini told WNYLaborToday.com today (Friday, July 26th). “It’s a ‘very good agreement’ and is the ‘best’ (Union Health Care Contract) in the area.”
The new agreement is retroactive to May 31st, 2019 and runs to May 31st, 2022. It covers Nurse Practitioners, Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), Techs, Professionals, Service Workers and Engineers employed at Kaleida Health’s Oishei Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, DeGraff Memorial Hospital, Millard Fillmore Suburban, Buffalo General Medical Center, HighPointe on Michigan and in Kaleida’s Business Office.
Highlights include a 4% bonus and a 6% wage increase over the life of the contract, an increase of 90 Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) Employees - which addresses Health Care Staffing problems Union Members have looked to address at Kaleida, no changes to the Workers’ health care coverage, improvements made to their pension plan, and “no concessions,” one Union Officials told WNYLaborToday.com just before the voting began.
The new agreement also includes a $15 per hour Minimum Wage for all job titles beginning in May 2020, making Kaleida Health the first large health system in Upstate New York to commit to a Living Wage, 1199 SEIU Officials said.
Service Workers currently earning $12 per hour, say this contract will dramatically change their lives. “Because of our Union Contract I will now have the flexibility I need to go to school to study nursing and improve the future for my family,” said Danielle Stefanski, an EVS Worker employed at Buffalo’s Oishei Children’s Hospital.
Under the new contract, Kaleida has agreed to hire 90 Full-Time Equivalent Positions across its system, in both Nursing and Non-Nursing positions. In addition, Kaleida also plans to create a Staffing Panel to address staffing disputes.
Gambini, whose CWA Local represents the largest number of Kaleida Workers at 4,300, said: “This Staffing Plan ‘will move us much closer to achieving the Staffing Levels needed to continue to provide quality care to our patients.’ ‘Improving’ staffing ‘was huge and it moves us closer in the right direction to put more Health Care Workers at the bedside.’”
CWA Member Linda Sheehan, an RN employed at Buffalo General Hospital, said: “As a ‘proud’ Member of CWA and a RN at Buffalo General Hospital for over thirty years, ‘I am very happy and grateful for the new contract.’ ‘It is comprehensive and includes the things most important to my colleagues and I, such as pay raises, good health insurance with low premiums, pension improvements and improvements to staffing.’”
1199 SEIU Vice President James Scordato said: “Walking into negotiations, our Union Members at Kaleida ‘already enjoyed the best’ Union Health Care Contract in Western New York. ‘Their dedication and hard work over the past five months made it possible to win improvements that will change lives for the better.’”
Gambini said CWA Local 1168 Members voted by an 80%-to-20% margin to approve the new deal. While it the final tally was not included in a 1199 SEIU press release, local Union Representatives told WNYLaborToday.com 1199 SEIU Members ratified the deal in the realm of 84% to 16%. Final numbers were not available of the IUOE vote.
Gambini said Kaleida Health Management sent out text messages to all of its Union-represented Workforce impacted by the new three-year deal, saying Kaleida Health “looked forward to moving forward and working together” with its Union Employees.
For More On This Labor News Story, Read WNYLaborToday.com’s July 17th Labor News Story, Headlined: Kaleida’s 7,200 Union-Represented Workers ‘Encouraged’ By Leadership To Ratify New Three-Year Deal - CWA Leader ‘Pleased’ With Overall Bonus, Wage Increase & Improvements Made To Address Increase In Staffing