Staffing & High Turnover Drive Contract Fights

August 21, 2018

Staffing.jpgWorkers at Livingston Hills Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Livingston, NY took matters into their own hands with a one-day picket July 19 to press management to settle a fair collective bargaining agreement and address the institution’s staffing issues. Facility owners initially refused to renegotiate participation in the Greater NY Health Benefit Fund, which workers fought for and won 15 years ago. The picket turned management around and at press time workers were negotiating back raises and seeking to address ongoing turnover at a nursing home, where frail and elderly residents count on continuity of care. “I’m exhausted. We are so short-staffed—everyone deserves better than this—workers and our residents. Livingston Hills can no longer delay settling our contract when we don’t have enough staff and quality care is at risk,” said Donna Decker, a Livingston Hills certified nursing assistant.

Workers at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston, NY on July 27 settled a collective bargaining agreement that addresses wages, benefits and staffing issues. The contract was reached the day after workers overwhelmingly approved a 10-day strike notice. 1199SEIU-represented registered nurses, nurse’s aides, laboratory and technical staff, dietary and environmental service workers at the hospital have been in contract negotiations for nearly year. “The short-staffing we see every day at Mount St. Mary’s should worry everyone in this community— everyone who may need our hospital or has a family member who counts on quality care at Mount St. Mary’s,” said Terri Ross, an RN at Mount St. Mary’s for the past 32 years.

On June 5, 65 healthcare workers at Rochester, N.Y.’s Anthony L. Jordan Health Center conducted a threeday work stoppage protesting their lack of a new collective bargaining agreement. Contract negotiations with Jordan Health began in November 2017 and quickly stalled. Workers picketed the facility in March to alert the community to struggle, and on April 30, employees walked off the job, protesting the Center’s refusal to properly fund their health insurance plan in spite of significant cost reductions. A federal mediator has been overseeing negotiations and in May proposed a settlement to both sides granting significant financial relief to the Center, guaranteeing health benefits for healthcare workers, and providing modest wage increases in the later years of the contract. The Union’s negotiating committee unanimously accepted the compromise. At press time, Jordan’s administration has refused to accept the settlement proposal.

“When Jordan administration treats us poorly, they are also disrespecting our patients and the people in our community that come here for care. We are standing up for our patients and the quality care they deserve today, just as we do every day,” said Minerva Felix-Torres, a medical referral secretary who has worked at Jordan in various capacities for nearly 40 years.

1199 Magazine: July / August 2018