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Kaleida Unions Reach Last Minute Contract Deal



(WBEN) With a strike authorization in hand, the three major labor unions at Kaleida Health have reached a  proposed three-yar contract deal that could a  walkout  on the very day their contract extension expired.

Communications Workers of America/AFL-CIO (CWA1168), International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE 17) and 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.had  authorized a strike that could have seen some 7,000 employees strike anytime after a ten day notice is served.


The unions' rank and file membership must still approve the proposed agreement.  Details of the agreement have not been made public, beyond a hospital statement  (below) that says it addresses wages and working conditions.

The master bargaining agreement between Kaleida Health and the three unions expired on May 31, but was extended until June 21 to allow further talks.    A strike vote was taken on June 13, and several sessions with a federal mediator were held.  After day long negotiating sessions Wednesday, the hospital system announced a tentative agreement after 3 am Thursday.

Headed into the strike authorization vote, wages were a crucial sticking point-- with union leaders and statements on the CWA's website both referring to the amount of money Kaleida was investing in building programs, rather than workers. the hospital chain had regularly spoken of the need for more flexibility in a changing environment.

Here's the statement released by Kaleida Health early Thursday morning

Kaleida Health has reached a tentative agreement with the Communications Workers of America/AFL-CIO (CWA1168), International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE 17) and 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East on a new three-year master bargaining agreement, which covers more than 7,300 unionized employees.
 
James R. Kaskie, President and CEO of Kaleida Health said, “The new agreement is an investment in our employees, with a continued commitment to providing market-competitive wages, benefits and employment conditions.  Just as important, it will also help Kaleida Health navigate a very difficult economy and ever-changing healthcare industry.”
 
The groups began bargaining on March 2, 2013 and through 32 negotiating sessions, reached tentative agreement on over 150 articles, MOUs, and letters including all economic and non-economic issues in the contract.

Earlier Coverage

Kaleida Workers Authorize Strike

(WBEN) Kaleida Health's three major labor unions, Communications Workers of America/AFL-CIO (CWA1168), International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE 17) and 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.have authorized a strike that could see employees walk off the job at area hospitals as of June 21

After three days of voting , they unions are expected  to meet with  a federal mediator Thursday, and a strike vote gives the union the ability to call one after those talks,  if they deem it necessary.

On The WBEN Liveline

Cori Gambini, RN, CWA 1168 Pres.



Michael Hughes, VP, Kaleida Health



 
Overall, do you think strikes are more helpful or harmful?
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“Kaleida Health is currently investing a half billion dollars into new construction projects. We have done our part; we are now asking Kaleida to invest in the workers, not just brick and mortar” said CWA President Cori Gambini;  R.N., in a prepared statement. .

Kaleida Health and the three unions held 30 bargaining sessions since negotiations began in March 2013.  The master bargaining agreement between Kaleida Health and the three unions covers over 7,000 employees. It was a two year contract that expired at midnight on May 31, 2013, but last week the two sides agreed to an extension until June 21.

"Management is not in favor of a work stoppage, but has contingency plans in place to ensure that we can continue to deliver safe, quality care to those that depend on us in the event the unions authorize a strike, " said hospital VP Mike Hughes.

"A strike authorization vote is a frequently utilized tactic by unions in negotiations. It allows (but does note require), via their by-laws and constitutions, the union bargaining committee to call a strike after the contract expires, if they deem a work stoppage is necessary," the hospital says in a prepared statement.

Under thier ten day notice period the earliest the workers could walk off the job is June 21.
 

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