New York, NY – Strong Memorial Hospital and University of Rochester Campus staffers who had been headed to the picket line and a another possible #Strikesgiving walkout, are instead celebrating a new contract win this week.
Members of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and SEIU Local 200United recently signed a new two-year deal with the institutions that reportedly includes across-the board 4% to 21% wage increases for the first year of the contract; a $15 an hour minimum wage for new hires; bonuses for additional work hours and a “step up” provision for longtime workers with 25 years on the job.
1199SEIU Vice-President Tracey Harrison called the agreement “a glimmer of justice for healthcare workers who have made incredible sacrifices.”
“These workers have gone without a wage increase since 2019, some have lost loved ones during this pandemic, and yet through it all they have shown up to work every day to provide the highest level of service and care to both patients and students with no complaint,” Harrison told LaborPress. “This settlement was necessary to show our members the recognition and appreciation they deserve.”
Ever-increasing healthcare costs were a major obstacle to the securing the new agreement covering some 1,800 workers — patient care technicians, nurses, drivers, library stack attendants, cooks, secretaries, porters and others.
“This was challenging due primarily to the increase in contribution required to maintain the healthcare benefit,” a spokesperson for the union told LaborPress. “The employer agreed to pay the increase in contribution and we believe that it was the right choice. Our members, their staff have already sacrifice enough. We are thankful that we were able to reach a favorable conclusion that everyone would benefit from.”
While the new pact does not include any enhancements to the existing healthcare package, itself, members will continue to be covered without having to pay any out-of-pocket premiums. Copays will also continue to be low according to the union.
Early this month, Mercy Hospital of Buffalo actually cut off healthcare plans covering 2,200 workers striking against that institution. A tentative agreement covering Mercy Hospital staffers, as well as those at Kenmore Mercy Hospital and Sisters of Charity Hospital’s St. Joseph’s campus, was ultimately reached on Nov. 4, ending the five-week-old strike.
Similar strikes and job actions are being replicated across the country during #Strikesgiving as workers in a myriad of sectors revolt against increasingly greedy bosses.
“We were just not feeling appreciated, especially when our workload doubled,” Strong Memorial Hospital patient care technician Arleata Robin White said in a statement following the SEIU contract wins. “We were prepared to picket to win a fair contract that included dignity and respect for everything we did during the pandemic and that’s why management came back with a better offer.”