Master Contract SECUREDOctober 29, 2021
Members move management to a strong League contract.
It was a long and winding road to get there, but 1199 members negotiating with the League of Voluntary Hospitals and Homes moved management to a strong settlement agreement on September 23, 2021—an agreement that secures the Union’s Gold Standard Contract for another three years.
And, for the first time, instead of facing the League’s lawyers across a large conference table with hundreds of members behind them, the Union’s Bargaining Committee did all their negotiating online in a virtual meeting place.
But that did not stop the Committee from holding League management’s feet to the fire over key issues—demands over which members from Long Island to Poughkeepsie (and everywhere in between) had taken to the streets to advance several times over the summer.
The new contract meets the priority goals identified by members early on, using their contract surveys.
As well as a $3,000 bonus for every League member upon ratification—on top of wage increases every year— League members will maintain their employer-paid health and pension benefits, not to mention the education, childcare and job security protections.
Another historic victory won during the negotiations was the inclusion of Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, as an annual vacation day for all League members.
Wayne Bassey, an 1199 Registered Nurse from Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital, was instrumental in moving management on this issue. “When I look around this country, one thing I’m grateful for is the slaves who fought for freedom while enduring whiplashes across their backs. I’m always in awe of what they had to go through. Their labor and toil created the environment we have today. It is very important to honor [enslaved] people in history, and their pivotal role should be celebrated,” said the 1199 Delegate and newly-elected member of the Bargaining Committee. Bassey emigrated from Nigeria more than 20 years ago and started out as a Nurse Aide then studied to become an RN with the help of the 1199SEIU Training and Upgrading Fund.
The Bargaining Committee also included members like Lurline Stoddard, a Patient Finance Advisor from New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, and a veteran of previous League negotiations. In January, she lost her husband to COVID-19. He had been a Physician Assistant at the same hospital where she works. All the more was his widow determined to fight hard at the negotiating table and help bring new bargaining team members along.
“Negotiating online was very difficult. Management doesn’t like it when we’re there making noise,” she says. “In the end though, what we got is a very fair contract. Management moved on the Juneteenth vacation day, and they didn’t touch our benefits.
We will also have cash-in-hand with a separate check for our $3,000 bonus.”