We Oppose NYU’s Union-Busting Maneuvers

August 16, 2017

NLRB issues complaint against the medical center.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in June issued a complaint against New York City’s prestigious NYU Langone Medical Center (NYU) for its decision to withdraw from the League of Voluntary Hospitals and Nursing Homes and walk away from its collective bargaining agreement with 1199SEIU. A Sept. 17 hearing date for the complaint has been set. The NLRB found that because NYU is still under contract with the Union, its refusal to bargain through the League violates the National Labor Relations Act.

Erica Ortiz a secretary in NYU’s Food and Nutrition Department, says the move has caused great unease among workers. Ortiz has two young children and a 21-year-old daughter, Jessmarie Delgado, who is a secretary at the hospital.

“We are essential to our healthcare institutions, and we dedicate our lives to caring for the sick,” says Ortiz, a veteran delegate. “For me this is not just about the present, it’s also about the future of my family and patients.”

1199SEIU represents some 5,000 workers throughout the healthcare mega-system in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and on Long Island. In a post decision statement, 1199SEIU President George Gresham applauded the NLRB.

“[NYU] seems to think its status as an elite health system that caters to wealthy New Yorkers means the law doesn’t apply to it,” said Gresham. “Shame on NYU for disrespecting the workforce that makes its quality of care so well regarded. NYU apparently doesn’t care that healthcare workers’ employment security and quality patient care go hand in hand.”

The NLRB complaint stems from an unfair-labor-practice charge filed by 1199SEIU and a countercharge brought by NYU. The origin of the dispute is NYU’s March 2016 decision to unilaterally withdraw from the League and bargain independently of the employer association.

In December, NYU notified the Union that the League was no longer authorized to negotiate on NYU’s behalf although the contract, which covers some 65 institutions and 85,000 members, doesn’t expire until Sept. 30, 2018.

NYU also balked at the Union and the League’s contention that the institution is responsible for a higher level of payments to the 1199SEIU National Benefit Fund. In retaliation, NYU commenced the lawsuit against the Union and League members, including Montefiore Medical Center, Mount Sinai Hospital, New York Presbyterian and Long Island-Jewish Medical Center. 1199 answered by filing an unfair retaliation charge with the NLRB.

Delegate Anthony Serrano, an NYU lab runner for eight years, agrees with the contention that NYU’s ultimate aim is to cut benefits and weaken the bargaining unit. “With NYU leaving the League, it’s like they can take everything away from us,” he warns.

Tanesha Marshall is an X-ray technician at NYU-Langone’s Hospital For Joint Diseases.

“We work hard for the hospital, and we just want to make sure that we are compensated for what we do,” she said.

Members affirm that they will not sit still for NYU’s attacks on the Union. Last summer, they held a lunchtime picket at NYU in Manhattan.

“[NYU is] using what’s happening in Washington as a springboard for their main objective—more profits,” Serrano stated. “We have to stand together. We can’t let them run all over us and steal our kids’ future.”

1199 Magazine | July / August 2017