Capital Region strike vote leads to tentative agreementDecember 17, 2023
After months of protracted bargaining, 1199 members at Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home in Gloversville, NY, voted to strike. But negotiations throughout the night finally led to a tentative agreement, which averted the planned strike action, and a new contract was ratified on November 22.
Health insurance was a priority for the members who depend on their comprehensive 1199SEIU National Benefit Fund health insurance. The reasoning was two-fold; healthcare workers, especially, must be healthy to do their jobs, and also, in these times of staff shortages, healthcare institutions cannot recruit and maintain workers without providing comprehensive and affordable health insurance.
“We said from the get-go that our goal was a contract that would help retain and recruit qualified healthcare workers and we achieved that. All healthcare workers need comprehensive health benefits, a stable pension and good wages, which allows us to take care of our families at the same time we care for others. That’s a win-win for the entire community,” said Rachel Ortega, a Sterile Processing Tech and member of the union Negotiating Committee.
The agreement reached not only preserves the members’ National Benefit Fund, but also, locks in health insurance premiums for the duration of the 3-year contract. Members will also receive a ratification bonus, and annual across the board wage increases throughout the duration of the 3-year contract.
“I’m relieved that our health insurance is secure and that the cost is locked in for the next three years. I love the work I do, but honestly, I would have had no choice other than to leave Nathan Littauer, if management had not agreed to protect our health benefits,” said Andrea Fagan, a Physical Therapy Assistant at the Nursing Home and also a committee member.
The bargaining unit includes 305 hospital and nursing home workers who are technical and service employees; licensed practical nurses; certified nursing assistants; environmental services, dietary, and food service workers; orderlies; maintenance mechanics; laboratory, pharmacy, clinical, respiratory, diagnostic imaging and surgical technicians, engineering staff and others.