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Hundreds of Kaleida workers joined picket for new deal

Union workers stage picket outside Buffalo General
1199 SEIU photo
Union workers stage picket outside Buffalo General

By Eileen Buckley


Buffalo, NY – Hundreds of Kaleida Healthcare workers staged an informational picket Monday outside Buffalo General Hospital.

The pickets were held as a contract between Kaleida Health and the 7,700 employees is set to expire June 17th at midnight.

Kaleida workers are represented by three unions, 1199 SEIU, CWA and IUOE.

John Klein is president of CWA Local 1168. He said a number of issues remain unresolved.

"They're coming after money hard. There is $70 million still on the table. Major cost shifting on several fronts, healthcare, pensions, just even cutting down those full time work weeks, 36-hours it's going to cost people $600 to $1200 depending if they are full-time, part-time and out of pocket then they get right now," said Klein.

But Kaleida spokesman Mike Hughes tells WBFO News they still have not received counter proposals on those issues from the unions.

"We have not heard their counter proposals on wages, benefits, pensions, paid time off, things like that. We are still waiting for their counter proposals and hopefully they will come to the table this week so we can get this done on time," said Hughes.

So far both sides resolved about 80% of non-economic issue, still the unions say they're trying to protect the livelihood of its members.

"These are life altering proposals on the table. You take someone making $25,000 a year, and you take six, seven or $800 out of their paycheck every month and it always changes how people live," said Klein.

But Kaleida insists it is bargaining in "good faith". Kaleida is faced with new economic realities in the midst of these contract talks.

"We have said for the last three years the continued state and federal cuts are going to impact us. We are now $50 million less in revenues than we were three years ago," noted Hughes.

The union said it wants to make sure it walks away "good patient-staff ratios" and "good patient care".

Kaleida insists it's focused on a contract that will "enhance" patient care.

Bargaining will continue on Thursday.