Jordan Health doubles down on proposal in face of union strike

June 4, 2018

by Sarah Taddeo, Democrat & Chronicle

Anthony Jordan Health Center officials doubled down Monday on a proposal offered to unionized workers last week, even as workers are poised for a three-day strike starting Tuesday.

Jordan Health workers represented by 1199SEIU, United Healthcare Workers East — numbering 68 out of approximately 329 total workers at the facility — have been in contract negotiations with their employer since November.

Last week, they announced their acceptance of a federal mediator’s proposal, which would concede a wage freeze in 2018, followed by three consecutive wage increases of 4 percent in 2019, and 2 percent in 2020, and a final additional increase of 1 percent in 2020, which will balance out the wage freeze and health benefits costs, said 1199SEIU Regional Vice President Bruce Popper.

Jordan Health’s proposal offers similar increases, but ends in 2021. That's a critical difference for the union, which argues that the original contract period in question was from January 2018 to December 2020, and that the final 1 percent increase must take place within that period to ensure that it coincides with a three-year cycle of health insurance rates, said Popper.

"We continue to urge them to approve the mediator’s proposal,” he said. “Our workers are willing to absorb a wage freeze — all we need to do is balance the funding of their health benefits."

Jordan Health has stated in recent weeks that the mediator's proposal would strain the community health center's resources.

“I am saddened and disappointed that the leadership of 1199 has turned this negotiating into an actual win game,” said Dr. Janice Harbin, president and CEO of Anthony Jordan Health Center. “There’s no win here — It impacts our patients, our employees and our community. We hope that we can resolve this issue as quickly as possible.”

Because the negotiations remain at an impasse, Jordan Health workers will begin a three-day strike starting at 8 a.m. Tuesday, the union said in a news release.

“I wouldn’t be doing this unless the workers were very, very united,” said Popper. There will be no impact on patients looking to receive care during the strike, Harbin said.

The union represents licensed practical nurses, medical technicians, nursing assistants, clerical and service employees at the health center. The union also represents employees at the University of Rochester Medical Center and six local nursing homes.

1199SEIU represents approximately 250,000 nurses and health care workers in New York and more than 400,000 members nationally.