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Jul 16, 2018 12:39 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

UPDATE: Stony Brook Southampton Hospital Union Employees Reach Agreement On Contracts

Members of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East held an informational picket on Thursday afternoon at Southampton Hospital.   DANA SHAW
Jul 17, 2018 4:28 PM

UPDATE: Tuesday, 4 p.m.

New York’s 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East union and the League of Voluntary Hospitals and Homes reached a deal for a new three-year contract, which includes an annual 3-percent salary increase for each of the three years and the same health benefits that employees have under their current contracts, officials said on Tuesday.

If approved by union members, the new contract will go into effect on October 1. As part of the agreement, League members, including Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, will also be required to pay additional amounts into the union’s pension funds and employees will have to wait longer to receive all of their retirement benefits.

“This agreement takes meaningful steps to put the pension fund on a more sustainable path—ensuring it will be there for future retirees, like it has been for current retirees,” Bruce McIver, president of the League of Voluntary Hospitals and Homes, said in a statement. “This agreement reflects our shared commitment to delivering world class health care for New Yorkers.”

ORIGINAL STORY:

Dozens of employees at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital lined the sidewalks on Meeting House Lane on Thursday, July 12, holding signs that read “No Pension, More Tension” and chanting “Union busting is disgusting” and “Stony Brook, shame on you” to draw attention to current contract negotiations.

Passing cars, trucks and bikes honked their horns, blew kisses and cheered for members of New York’s 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East union, which includes nurses, social workers, housekeeping and kitchen staff, and medical specialists, who participated in the picket in an effort to fight for what they termed fair contacts and pensions.

The union has been in contract negotiations with the League of Voluntary Hospitals and Homes, an association that acts as a bargaining agent for negotiations with union members at more than 90 medical facilities in the metropolitan area, since late May. But, according to union members, the league is threatening to take away some of their current benefits.

Now, with their contracts expiring in late September, union employees at the hospital, as well as many other major healthcare centers throughout the state, flooded the streets with signs, balloons and noisemakers in an effort to fight back.

The league, however, said that they too are fighting for the healthcare workers’ pensions and benefits.

“The league has been clear that we want to protect the pension fund, making sure that the pension benefits that 1199 members receive, and count on to be there when they retire, will remain intact,” a statement released by the league read. “This is not a strike and will not interfere with normal operations.”

According to Ofelia Virtucio, the organizer of the Southampton demonstration, negotiations were ongoing throughout the night on Wednesday, but the union only made “some headway.”

The current collective bargaining contract that union employees have expires on September 30, 2018. Although, according to a press release, the union set a bargaining deadline for Friday, both Stony Brook Southampton Hospital and 1199SEIU employees at the Thursday demonstration said the effort would continue.

“You will still see us out here fighting until we come to a conclusion,” said Nadine Sinclair, the union’s political organizer. “We’re not going down without a fight.”

“No one is okay with a 2.5-percent raise,” the union’s political director, Anthony Garcia, said to hospital employees that afternoon. Both Mr. Garcia and Ms. Sinclair came to Southampton for the picketing but do not work at the hospital.

“We can’t work for less—that makes no sense,” said Erin Grismer, a registered nurse at the hospital. “We’re working harder, and they want us to work for less.”

“We provide a vital service to this community, and it’s about respect,” respiratory therapist Joseph Angelopo added.

Many others, like Patricia Malloy, who has been working at the hospital for 22 years, James Grabas, a registered nurse who works in the emergency room, and Janine Bassi, a laboratory technologist, said it simply was not fair that their pensions were on the line.

“They want us to contribute to the health care, to pay for our health care, and, yes, they’re threatening to take away our pensions,” Ms. Bassi explained. “We’re making some movement in negotiations, but it’s just not fast enough.”

Stony Brook Southampton Hospital is a member of the league, so representatives from the association are negotiating with the union on behalf of the hospital.

As part of the affiliation agreement with Stony Brook University Hospital, the Southampton staff was permitted to continue to be represented by the same union from when Southampton Hospital was a private nonprofit.

A statement from Stony Brook Southampton Hospital read, in part: “Stony Brook Southampton Hospital is very supportive of its employees and we are actively working toward a timely and successful contract negotiation between the entities.”

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Living in a dream world. Nobody gets free healthcare anymore, much less a pension, unless you work for the government. Get real.
By Babyboo (266), Hampton Bays on Jul 16, 18 6:45 PM
But, its amazing how many people will sacrifice their own retirement and vote to support pensions of others. Take $$ out of their own pocket and hand it to others so these people can retire at 50 yrs old via taxes and the rest of us slubs have to work until whenever. You can't make this stuff up.
By realistic (463), westhampton on Jul 16, 18 9:29 PM
1199 covers many hospital groups, government and profit/non-profits like Northwell, NYU...etc. Northwell paying 100% of my premiums is just part of my total compensation package. It works for me because I have a few kids. I could easily leave the system and take a job in the true for profit private sector, pay half my premiums and demand a 20K a year bump. Guess what.. they'll pay it. This is not just nurses, its an incredibly diverse set of skills represented here. Some in demand more then others, ...more
By cyjay (1), Setauket on Jul 18, 18 2:51 PM
They do work for the government. Southampton Hospital is owned by SUNY Stony Brook which is a New York State government entity. Why do we pay state taxes so that a state government can charge $1000 per month per person for healthcare with large deductibles? How much does the CEO of SUNY make? How much does the Southampton Hospital CEO make? Howuch does the SUNY Stony Brook CEO make? Our elected officials have abandoned us. No citizen should have to pay for healthcare that their taxes already.pay ...more
By dfree (706), hampton bays on Jul 17, 18 4:28 AM
Before Southampton was taken over by Stony Brook the hospital was privately owned. The government is now forcing small hospitals to merge with larger institutions...That being said the merger would not have gone thru if the unions where not kept separate from the state...1199 workers do not have the luxuray of retiring after 20 years like state workers and have a full pension. Most of you haters on this thread have no clue what we at the hospital do for this community, and at a super low pay ...more
By J. Totta (102), Sag Harbor on Jul 24, 18 10:05 AM
People who are smarter and work harder than myself annoy me because they often achieve more than I have. I am a jealous, envious person who blames others for my shortcomings.

It is other people's fault that I am not a hard-working medical professional who deserves fair compensation.
By Aeshtron (312), Southampton on Jul 17, 18 11:00 AM
2 members liked this comment
Listen it doesn't matter if you work harder or not or are smarter or not it has to do with you expecting others to pick up your retirement. If you are such a hard and smart worker keep your hands out of other peoples pockets and fund your own retirement.
By realistic (463), westhampton on Jul 17, 18 2:40 PM
I don't understand your point. You realize a pension is part of the compensation package, right?

Do you think ZERO government jobs should have pensions? That's not how you hang on to qualified candidates...
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (6204), HAMPTON BAYS on Jul 17, 18 2:52 PM
What I understand is when I look at the finances of most Villages, Towns, and State Govt (NY State in particular) I see millions if not billions in unfunded pensions that will have to be picked up by the tax payers now and in the future. An article last week in the WSJ stated Chicago could collect $2,000 from each citizen each year for 30 years just to pay the current unfunded liabilities. Newsday reported a LI town just borrowed $$ to pay their unfunded liabilities. There is only so much you ...more
By realistic (463), westhampton on Jul 17, 18 3:02 PM
Numbers don't lie, but incomplete numbers paint an incomplete pictures.

Do you think Chicago's economy and tax base is smaller or larger today than 30 years ago?
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (6204), HAMPTON BAYS on Jul 17, 18 3:16 PM
Exactly and you prove the point even more. Today we cant support the pension and benefit system through taxes when they were calculated on much small workforces. Now we have larger workforces and the pension cant even begin to make sense. Think about it for an average person to have a pension of $65,000 year (not including benefits of another $20,000 a year) would need $2,125,000 in the bank at 4% interest. Not the average American, not the average person. Yet these people are asking taxpayers ...more
By realistic (463), westhampton on Jul 17, 18 4:04 PM
1 member liked this comment
Put another way, is Chicago's economy and tax base likely to shrink or grow in the next 30 years?

Sure, it's possible for NYC and the surrounding suburbs to go Detroit, but unlikely. We live in one of the most attractive places in the world, and I doubt that'll change any time soon, whatever the tax premium.

We'll get pushback from penny pinchers before that happens anyway, and these nurses/teachers/cops will have to decide whether to accept lower compensation or seek greener pastures ...more
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (6204), HAMPTON BAYS on Jul 17, 18 4:48 PM
Well said.
By Babyboo (266), Hampton Bays on Jul 17, 18 7:00 PM
Greener pastures? Who has better compensation packages than Long Island teachers? School budgets are $40,000 per student in Southampton and Westhampton, $35,000 per student in Hampton Bays. Where are these teachers going to get more than that? And leaving nursing compensation aside, how much does the CEO of SUNY Southampton Hospital make? Answer:. Over $1 million in total compensation package.
By dfree (706), hampton bays on Jul 24, 18 11:40 AM
Most private sector companies eliminated defined benefit pensions plans decades ago and switched over to defined contribution plans. Defined benefits plans are unsustainable just like social security since people are in retirement for decades after they retire. The municipal and school pensions especially for the six figure salaries many employees have are crippling middle class who are not employed by the school and municipality on Long Island. There are many published independent studies that ...more
By G.A.Lombardi (372), Hampton Bays on Jul 17, 18 4:53 PM
Are these nurses not contributing to the pension plan?

It's been a long time since I've heard of zero-contribution plans, and nowadays they take many years to vest at reduced rates, then many more to get even close to their salary at retirement.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (6204), HAMPTON BAYS on Jul 17, 18 5:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
My comments were general about property taxes and the funding of municipalities and schools, not hospital staff. The pension and benefit line item on many of the school and municipal budgets are substantial and I doubt that they are trending downward.
By G.A.Lombardi (372), Hampton Bays on Jul 17, 18 7:08 PM
Well I can tell you they're trending downward on the recipient's side, as should be expected to protect taxpayers.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (6204), HAMPTON BAYS on Jul 17, 18 7:28 PM
Not necessarily on a dollar for dollar ratio. Take a look at some of the local school budgets.
By G.A.Lombardi (372), Hampton Bays on Jul 17, 18 8:12 PM
Everyone deserves healthcare. Stony Brook Southampton Hospital has its expenses 100% covered by Medicare, Medicaid and the taxpayer supported contribution from local police and government.employees. It is NOT necessary to charge any Southampton citizen for healthcare -- remove the insurance companies and million dollar compensation packages for hospital execs and you're running a surplus. Why have two competing hospitals with redundant services 10 miles apart? So that local politicians can get ...more
By dfree (706), hampton bays on Jul 17, 18 10:11 PM
1 member liked this comment
You should really educate yourself before you post....You have no clue!!!!!
By J. Totta (102), Sag Harbor on Jul 27, 18 11:49 AM
I bet the same people who want these union perks support free healthcare!! LMAO!!
By YEAROUNDER (81), East Hampton on Jul 25, 18 2:57 PM