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NLH, Union reach contract agreement

GLOVERSVILLE — Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home and union workers this week ratified a new four-year contract featuring annual wage increases and maintaining benefits to end negotiations that had been underway for over a year.

The collective bargaining agreement between Nathan Littauer and healthcare workers represented by 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East was ratified after the 321 union members “overwhelmingly” voted in favor of the contract on Monday and was announced in a joint press release issued by the two entities on Thursday.

The four-year agreement provides annual raises across the board to 1199 members, as well as base wage increases in certain job categories. Under the contract union workers will maintain their health and pension benefits through the 1199SEIU National Benefit Fund. The new agreement is effective retroactively beginning July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2023.

“We have come to an equitable agreement at a pivotal time,” said Nathan Littauer President and CEO Sean Fadale in a prepared statement. “As the holidays approach, I want the community to know they are in good hands at Nathan Littauer. We are excited we reached an agreement so we can continue to focus on the organization’s future. As this contract illustrates, we are a community hospital focused on unity and compassion. We strive to be fair to all employees allowing us to deliver outstanding patient care.”

The employee union and Nathan Littauer came to an agreement on a contract roughly a month after Fadale assumed leadership of the hospital and nursing home following the retirement of former President and CEO Laurence Kelly in October after 19 years on the job.

Contract negotiations began in August 2019 following the expiration of the previous four-year contract that was in effect from July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2019. Union members earlier this year described the contract negotiations as “contentious” and eventually brought their frustrations over stalled bargaining talks to the public on billboards and by picketing in front of the hospital in June.

The hospital in response described those efforts as an attempt to distract from the focus of staff members on the health crisis posed by the coronavirus. Both Nathan Littauer and the union pointed to the new contract as allowing staff members to care for their own families while caring for their patients just as the number of coronavirus cases are increasing heading towards a possible fall surge that health experts have expected would arrive with cold weather as more people head indoors.

“This agreement proves that the dedicated Nathan Littauer healthcare workers are respected and valued for all that they do,” said Capital Region 1199SEIU Vice President Maureen Tomlinson in a prepared statement. “The agreed upon raises and wage increases indicate that we were heard when we said two important things: We need to be able to take care of our own families at the same time we care for others and Nathan Littauer must be able to attract and retain qualified staff. It is clear that when we work together, we can tackle even the most difficult challenges and there are many ahead. Together, we are prepared.”

The contractual wage increases included in the agreement are expected to bolster recruitment and retention efforts, which union members during negotiations described as issues for the hospital and nursing home attributable to non-competitive wages that contributed to staffing shortages and therefore mandatory overtime further complicating hiring and retention efforts.

“This agreement honors our employees, and the organization’s mission. Looking ahead, we are working toward a common goal: A strong workforce coupled with outstanding clinical outcomes to help keep our community safe,” stated Nathan Littauer Vice President of Human Resources Lana E. Wydra. “Especially now, as we face a COVID-19 wave in our community, I am proud of this outcome.”

Littauer employees covered by the 1199 bargaining unit are technical and service employees, including licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistants, environmental services, nutritional services, lab and pharmacy technicians, diagnostic imaging services, engineering staff and others.

“This is a great accomplishment as we continue to care for our community,” stated Fadale. “Littauer and its employees can confidently move forward as one workforce.”

“The hospital has been very successful in treating our neighbors with COVID-19 and will strive to keep our patients and staff safe during the challenging months ahead,” Fadale added. “We invite our region to join us in that quest, by masking and following safety guidelines.”

By ASHLEY ONYON

The Leader-Herald

GLOVERSVILLE — Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home and union workers this week ratified a new four-year contract featuring annual wage increases and maintaining benefits to end negotiations that had been underway for over a year.

The collective bargaining agreement between Nathan Littauer and healthcare workers represented by 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East was ratified after the 321 union members “overwhelmingly” voted in favor of the contract on Monday and was announced in a joint press release issued by the two entities on Thursday.

The four-year agreement provides annual raises across the board to 1199 members, as well as base wage increases in certain job categories. Under the contract union workers will maintain their health and pension benefits through the 1199SEIU National Benefit Fund. The new agreement is effective retroactively beginning July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2023.

“We have come to an equitable agreement at a pivotal time,” said Nathan Littauer President and CEO Sean Fadale in a prepared statement. “As the holidays approach, I want the community to know they are in good hands at Nathan Littauer. We are excited we reached an agreement so we can continue to focus on the organization’s future. As this contract illustrates, we are a community hospital focused on unity and compassion. We strive to be fair to all employees allowing us to deliver outstanding patient care.”

The employee union and Nathan Littauer came to an agreement on a contract roughly a month after Fadale assumed leadership of the hospital and nursing home following the retirement of former President and CEO Laurence Kelly in October after 19 years on the job.

Contract negotiations began in August 2019 following the expiration of the previous four-year contract that was in effect from July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2019. Union members earlier this year described the contract negotiations as “contentious” and eventually brought their frustrations over stalled bargaining talks to the public on billboards and by picketing in front of the hospital in June.

The hospital in response described those efforts as an attempt to distract from the focus of staff members on the health crisis posed by the coronavirus. Both Nathan Littauer and the union pointed to the new contract as allowing staff members to care for their own families while caring for their patients just as the number of coronavirus cases are increasing heading towards a possible fall surge that health experts have expected would arrive with cold weather as more people head indoors.

“This agreement proves that the dedicated Nathan Littauer healthcare workers are respected and valued for all that they do,” said Capital Region 1199SEIU Vice President Maureen Tomlinson in a prepared statement. “The agreed upon raises and wage increases indicate that we were heard when we said two important things: We need to be able to take care of our own families at the same time we care for others and Nathan Littauer must be able to attract and retain qualified staff. It is clear that when we work together, we can tackle even the most difficult challenges and there are many ahead. Together, we are prepared.”

The contractual wage increases included in the agreement are expected to bolster recruitment and retention efforts, which union members during negotiations described as issues for the hospital and nursing home attributable to non-competitive wages that contributed to staffing shortages and therefore mandatory overtime further complicating hiring and retention efforts.

“This agreement honors our employees, and the organization’s mission. Looking ahead, we are working toward a common goal: A strong workforce coupled with outstanding clinical outcomes to help keep our community safe,” stated Nathan Littauer Vice President of Human Resources Lana E. Wydra. “Especially now, as we face a COVID-19 wave in our community, I am proud of this outcome.”

Littauer employees covered by the 1199 bargaining unit are technical and service employees, including licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistants, environmental services, nutritional services, lab and pharmacy technicians, diagnostic imaging services, engineering staff and others.

“This is a great accomplishment as we continue to care for our community,” stated Fadale. “Littauer and its employees can confidently move forward as one workforce.”

“The hospital has been very successful in treating our neighbors with COVID-19 and will strive to keep our patients and staff safe during the challenging months ahead,” Fadale added. “We invite our region to join us in that quest, by masking and following safety guidelines.”

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