At Labor Management Event Collaboration = ChangeDecember 9, 2019
Members from around downstate New York gathered at a midtown Manhattan hotel on Nov. 1 for a daylong discussion of best practices, labor management cooperation, and improving patient care at every level.
The 1199SEIU/League Labor Management Project (LMP) Showcase of Promising Practices was a first-of-its kind event. Members and management learned about successful initiatives, brainstormed about everything from leadership development to behavioral health, and engaged in frank conversations about where relationships and efforts are falling short.
The LMP was created in 1997 in response to healthcare industry changes, including the increased competition among hospitals and nursing homes driven by managed care. LMP initiatives build cooperative efforts and address issues like cost efficiencies, care models, health and safety, and crisis leadership.
Today there are numerous labor management committees working in League-represented institutions throughout lower Westchester County, New York City, and on Long Island. (And for the first time, Massachusetts 1199ers are set to participate in the LMP; members from Steward Health Care negotiated the initiative in their last contract.) Summit speakers included Employment Training and Job Security Fund Executive Director Sandi Vito; Marc Kramer, head of the League of Voluntary Hospitals and Homes; and 1199SEIU Secretary Treasurer Maria Castaneda, who throughout her career has been a staunch advocate for labor-management cooperation and its benefits for workers and the healthcare system.
“This is not just about grievances and arbitration, but about a lot of work that can advance patient care,” she said. “It’s about what we can add at our institutions that will strengthen our Union and a proactive Union voice that addresses the changes occurring in health care.”
Dr. Torian Easterling, Deputy Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Center for Health Equity and Community Wellness, was the event’s keynote speaker. Easterling drilled down into the effects of racism, poverty, and public health neglect, and praised the LMP committees’ work on behalf of their communities and the entire City of New York.
Afternoon showcases included labor/management panel discussions on smoking among nursing home residents and systemic change in safety-net hospitals. The breakouts provided space for shareable ideas, compelling questions, and honest evaluation.
“This work is all about worker power and how strong we are,” said Paulette Forbes, a radiological technologist at Brooklyn’s Brookdale Medical Center. “We cannot wait for crises to happen. We must work together for the best and be prepared for the worst. This work is about turning problems into opportunities for advocacy and change.”