1199SEIU contract language allows some workers to move into other positions across Catholic Health’s System in Erie County, but some could lose union protections
Submitted by 1199SEIU
Nearly 100 full-time union health care workers at Catholic Health’s Mount St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston are working to find new job placements following an announcement that the hospital would cut critical patient services for rural Niagara County residents. 1199SEIU was notified last week that labor and delivery, surgical services, dialysis and more would shut down patient services by July 1, leaving workers to find new positions within the hospital system or elsewhere.
“We are a community hospital,” said Cathy Mahar, registered nurse first assist at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston. “We are a family. This is devastating for us and our community. My current job will be eliminated, and I’m still trying to get my head around this. I thought I would retire from here and now I just don’t know.”
As patient care is transferred to new sites within Catholic Health, union workers are left to make the transition, too. Some will need to travel up to 18 miles or more into Erie County should they find a position within the Catholic Health system there.
“After working for Catholic Health for 37 years, losing my job as a post surgical care nurse is heart-wrenching,” said Terri Ross, a registered nurse. “We just found out that services at our hospital will be closing. Since my specialty is no longer here, I plan to take another position within Catholic Health, which will require training and education. I’ll have to learn an entirely new position. After being in the same work area for the last 24 years, it will be challenging.”
“We are disappointed that the employer didn’t notify the union sooner about their plan to cut critical service lines,” said Jim Scordato, 1199SEIU vice president for WNY hospitals. “This is the second hospital in Niagara County that will cut or close services this month. The union will work to find our members jobs within their specialty, even if it’s outside of the Catholic Health system.”
He added, “Inadequate Medicaid funding rates in upstate New York mean that we will continue to see more cuts to hospital and health care services leading to the subsequent loss of good jobs and access to quality care in our communities.”
More than 400 health care workers at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital are represented by 1199SEIU, United Healthcare Workers East. Their four-year union contract includes strong language allowing 100 members impacted by the closures to move into vacant and available positions across Catholic Health’s system. Currently, all Catholic Health hospitals outside of Mount St. Mary’s and the soon-to-be-completed Lockport Memorial Hospital are located in Erie County, leaving workers to juggle family commitments, day care and adjustments to work hours. Some union members could be adversely effected by changes to their wages, benefits, and union security.
1199SEIU continues to review job placement options with 100 union members impacted by the closures.
1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East represents over 400,000 nurses and caregivers throughout Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington (D.C.) and Florida.