Members of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East approved a three-year collective bargaining agreement with Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center in balloting held Wednesday.
The agreement covers approximately 650 hospital staff members, including service and maintenance employees, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and technicians and professional employees. The previous collective bargaining agreement expired on Dec. 8, 2012, and had been extended by mutual agreement several times while talks continued.
The agreement includes wage increases totaling 9 percent over the life of the contract beginning with an increase retroactive to December 2012. In addition, the hospital will increase contributions to both the SEIU pension and training funds. The union and the hospital also reached a compromise that will preserve affordable health insurance for all eligible employees.
"We value our ongoing partnership with 1199SEIU and look forward to working with its members to implement this agreement and to achieve our mutual goals: improving the health status of the region we serve and, through innovation, stimulating economic development and job growth," said Memorial President and CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo.
"I'm very proud of this agreement. It ensures that our employees will stay at Niagara Falls Memorial and are not looking for employment at other area hospitals in order to make ends meet," said Linda Shamrock, a registered nurse with 33 years of service.
"For the first time, we all sat together as a team and not individual positions or departments. We were unified in finding an agreement that provides high-quality care to our patients and allows us to take care of ourselves and families," said 28-year employee Betty Jean Strzelczyk, a member of the employee negotiating committee and program assistant in the inpatient behavioral health unit.
"We all worked very hard to address the financial challenges facing health care, including the cost of insurance, and believe we crafted some meaningful solutions," said Memorial Human Resources Director David Steinwald. "We will continue to work with our union employees as we go forward to recruit and retain high-quality staff and deliver the best available care."