More than 7,200 union healthcare workers represented by CWA 1168, IUOE Local 17 and 1199SEIU, United Healthcare Workers East, voted in July to accept a new collective bargaining agreement with Kaleida Health.
The three-year agreement includes adjustments to staffing levels, wage increases, and addresses safety concerns brought by employees.
The new agreement also includes a $15 per hour minimum wage for all job titles beginning in May 2020, making Kaleida the first large health system in Upstate New York to commit to a living wage.
Service workers currently earning $12 per hour say this contract will dramatically change their lives, according to a union news release. “Because of our union contract I will now have the flexibility I need to go to school to study nursing and improve the future for my family,” said Danielle Stefanski, EVS worker at John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital.
All other Kaleida employees will receive a one-time 4% ratification bonus based on hourly rate and a total wage increase of 6% over the life of the contract.
Staffing, a priority for union members, was also addressed during negotiations. Under the new contract Kaleida has agreed to hire 90 full-time equivalent positions across the system, in both nursing and non-nursing positions. Kaleida also plans to create a staffing panel to address staffing disputes.
“This staffing plan will move us much closer to achieving the staffing levels needed to continue to provide quality care to our patients,” said Cori Gambini, CWA Local 1168 president.
“As a proud member of CWA and an RN at Buffalo General Hospital for over 30 years, I am very happy and grateful for the new contract. It is comprehensive and includes the things most important to my colleagues and I, such as pay raises, good health insurance with low premiums, pension improvements and improvements to staffing,” said Linda Sheehan, RN at Buffalo General Hospital.