Workers Win Big at Columbia Memorial HospitalMay 12, 2021
On a frigid day in December 2020, two weeks before the year anniversary of their contract expiration, with a snowstorm looming, more than three hundred 1199SEIU members with families, friends and community supporters held an informational picket in Hudson, NY, demanding fair wages and affordable health benefits for workers at Columbia Memorial Hospital (CMH). By all reports, this was the strongest worker and community outcry at in decades.
On Feb. 5, CMH 1199ers—professional, technical, and service workers—ratified a new, three-year contract with raises, retroactive pay, better wages, affordable health benefits and provisions that aim to raise standards for the workers, and improve quality patient care, by helping to attract & maintain staff, reduce turnover, and relieve short staffing. Highlights of the new collective bargaining agreement are raises of 2 percent for each year of the contract, plus retroactive pay.
Workers also won big on pensions and healthcare; all members kept their pension and the bargaining committee fully pushed back CMH’s proposal to increase health insurance contribution and negotiated an additional 1 percent from a management for family health coverage. Workers also won a host of improvements that help recruit and retain staff, including weekend and shift differentials, on call premiums, orientation pay and improvements to education and training benefits. Numerous classifications, including RNs, LPN, multi-specialty aides and others won significant step increases and differentials.
Colleen Daly, RN and member of the negotiating committee said, “This agreement proves what we can do when we are united and stay the course. We set new and improved standards this time, and we’re going to build on that. Our community supported us every step of the way in this contract fight, and they deserve nothing less than the best patient care.”