September 18 - Bargaining Update

On September 16, the Catholic Health (CH) and Hospital bargaining committee put out a update that was full of misleading misinformation related to contract negotiations. The Union bargaining committee wants to be sure that you have an accurate, complete understanding of the open items in bargaining.

CT 19 Hospital Discounts: CH is proposing to decrease the outpatient procedure discount and to decrease the Emergency Department discount. CH owes us a proposal on this topic. The Union made the last proposal on September 17, 2021.

This proposal from CH is a concession.

CT 26.2 Contracting Out Work: The Union has lost hundreds of Union jobs over the years as a result of CH moving Union work to non-Union sites and then contracting out the work back to the hospitals. For example, CH just moved Patient Access work and Radiology Clerk work to the non-Union Contact Center at Canisius College. Work that our members did, and did well! The work coming out of the contact center is so bad, that our members are feverishly working to correct the mistakes. CH owes us a proposal on this topic. The Union made the last proposal on September 7, 2021.

CT 39 Merger, Consolidation, Transfer of Establishment of Work within Catholic Health: When CH relocates our work to other CH facilities we want them to follow certain fair rules for how our members will be moved. The recent closure of floors and departments at St. Joseph Hospital emphasized how important this type of language. CWA made our first proposal on this topic on February 3, 2020. We finally received a response September 17, seventeen months later. The Union will evaluate this proposal and give a response.

CT 48 Staffing/Clinical Staffing Committee: CWA made our last proposal on this topic on August 3, 2021. We finally received our first proposal on this topic on September 17. CH did not respond to our proposal on ratios. Their proposal was completely unresponsive to all of the staffing concerns that were raised. We were completely disheartened with CH’s
response and the fact that they are tone deaf to the pleas for relief from the staffing crisis affecting our facilities. The Union will evaluate this proposal and respond.

CT 49 Organizing Agreement: CWA proposed an agreement that would allow us to organize non-Union CH employees. Although CH committed to us that they would work on an Organizing Agreement at Labor Management on November 8, 2019, they are now refusing to live up to their commitment. CH owes us a proposal on this topic. The Union made the last proposal on May 12, 2021.

CT 50 Pandemic Preparedness: CWA made a proposal on May 12, 2021. We finally received a counter proposal September 17 which completely ignores pages of language the Union proposed on pandemic preparedness. CWA does not want our members to go through what they did during the pandemic because CH was not prepared to handle patients with an airborne respiratory illness. The Union will evaluate this proposal and give a response.

CT 51 Bonus Payment Program: CWA made a proposal to create a bonus payment program for all hours worked above the employees budgeted hours. CH did respond to this proposal but we are still far apart in terms of the dollar amounts. CH owes us a proposal on this topic. The Union made the last proposal on September 1, 2021.

CT 52 Overtime: CH is proposing mandatory overtime for all non-registered nurses. The Union has rejected this proposal. CH owes us a proposal on this topic. The Union made the last proposal on September 1, 2021.

CT 53 Paid Time Off: CH is proposing to cut PTO for all Mercy Hospital of Buffalo employees. They are also proposing to eliminate PTO accruals on unscheduled PTO, all leaves of absence time, New York State Disability, Workers’ Compensation and all paid sick leave. CH owes us a proposal on this topic. The Union made the last proposal on September 8, 2021.

This proposal from CH is a concession.

CT 56 Dental Insurance: CWA is proposing present contract on the level of benefits and CH is proposing a decrease in Restorative/Oral Surgery from 70% to 50%. This will result in a significant out of pocket increase when you use the plan. CH owes us a proposal on this topic. The Union made the last proposal on September 7, 2021.

This proposal from CH is a concession.

CT 59 Extended Sick Leave Pay: CH gave us a terrible proposal on how to incorporate the New York State Paid Sick Leave (NYSPSL) into the contract. One significant problem is that the law clearly states that employees must make a request, either verbally or in writing in order to be charged for utilizing a day under the NYSPSL. Catholic Health’s own policy says the same thing. But CH has been forcing people to use their NYSPSL whenever they call in. The Union is working on how to correct this violation of the law. The Union owes CH a proposal on this once we get information that we requested.

CT 60 Retirement Plan: CH has been telling our members that a majority of you would receive an improved pension benefit under their proposal. This is only true if you contribute 6% of your income to the retirement plan and get a 3% employer match. Although CH has proposed to go back to present contract on pension we are still proposing an improvement to the PRA and to protect the grandfathered legacy employees. CWA and CH are actively discussing
ways to fix the PRA pension plan.

CT 63 Health Coverage: CH is proposing a significant increase in the cost that members will pay for health coverage. Of the 1511 members that take the health insurance benefit, 1401 would pay increased premiums. CH also wants us to agree to their High Deductible Health Plan which includes out of pocket maximums of $6,850 Individual/$13,700 Family if you stay in the CH network and $10,000 Individual/$20,000 Family if you go out of network. The Union owes CH a proposal on this once we get information that we requested.

This proposal from CH is a concession.

CT 64 Prescription Drug Coverage: CH has proposed to increase the out of pocket co-pays on all prescriptions. The Union is proposing present contract. CH owes us a proposal on this topic. The Union made the last proposal on July 21, 2021.

This proposal from CH is a concession.

CT 66-69 Salaries: CWA made an extensive proposal to create four new wage scales that would cross hospital lines. We proposed a pay scale for all Registered Nurses, all Clerical Employees, all Service Employees and all Technical Employees. The Union also proposed a significant number of job upgrades because of the number of employees that are still paid below $15.00/hour and we have a significant number of members that are paid far below our competitor’s rates. CH is unwilling to even consider these proposals at this point in time. CH is proposing flat across the board increase of 2% the first year and 1.5% in a second, third and fourth year.

CT 70 Duration: CWA proposed a three year agreement and CH is proposing a four year agreement. This issue will be decided once we understand the economic impact of a total proposal.

In addition to the very significant proposals listed above, there are a number of proposals that are being actively negotiated. There are also a number of bargaining unit proposals that we are working on.

Despite CH’s false claims, the Union is bargaining in good faith. We are always at bargaining and ready to work. CH claims that the Union is bad faith bargaining are false and we know we will successfully defend ourselves at the National Labor Relations Board. The Union has filed Unfair Labor practices against CH as well.

We are now working seven days a week in order to negotiate a new agreement. We will keep you posted on our progress daily. If you have any questions or concerns please contact a member of the bargaining committee.