We're the heroes in this fight. Now it's time to do what's right!

August 26, 2021

Bargaining Bulletin

Bargaining with the “Greater” kicked off today when we gave the employer’s lawyers our proposals. Three 1199 committee members set the stage and made the point that the last year and a half with the COVID pandemic changed our lives in big ways, and these negotiations must reflect that.

Our immediate goal was to secure the zero co-pay in our health benefits, something we fought long and hard for in our last contract negotiations. Set to expire on September 30, we proposed to extend the policy to December 31, so that no member will risk losing this critical healthcare benefit while we are negotiating a new contract.

When the lawyers responded by trying to tie an extension of the co-pay to a one-year extension of the entire contract, which would in effect end bargaining for all the improvements we pro-posed, including wage increases — every one of us was outraged. After all, our members had just spoken clearly and forcefully about the impact of COVID, and how nothing was ever going to be the same. But the “Greater’s” lawyers acted like time was standing still, and that it would be per-fectly fine to keep the contract we negotiated three years ago. We were especially angry because they knew we would not accept the contract extension, so attempting to hold our health benefits hostage was purposeful.

However, it was sign of our strength when many of us took action immediately by calling our co-workers at work to report what had just happened at negotiations. We told them to walk in to management on site and let them know that under no circumstances will we let them play games with our health benefits. Then, we told the lawyers the same, and reminded them once again that it’s not enough to just call us heroes, they must value our work. In our first victory, the lawyers came back from their caucus and backed off their proposal; the co-pay will be extended for now until December 31.

That said, they still want us to think about extending the current contract, something we will not consider. They also said that individual institutions want the right to drop out of negotiations if they don’t agree with everyone else. We told them that we are at one table and we’re staying together!

We had a significant win today and that is no little deal. But we know there’s a diffcult fight ahead when the employers simply ignored everything we said, and started off bargaining with an insulting proposal. In fact, one of the employer attorneys seems to think that nursing home owners have no responsibilities. He went on and on about the owners’ financial difficulties and blamed them all on New York State. According to him, the employer shouldn’t have to pay for PPE, or testing, or really much of anything else!

After negotiations ended we held breakout meetings and committed to organizing and mobilizing our chapters. We might have known it before, but it became crystal clear today, that winning the contract we deserve is going to require that 100% of members are engaged in unified action!