The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

Local News

July 3, 2012

Medina Memorial workers ready to strike

Medina Journal-Register — A strike is looming at Medina Memorial Hospital.

Employees of the Orleans Community Health-owned hospital have notified management, Federal and State officials, that they intend to engage in a one-day work stoppage July 13 to protest the lack of a new labor agreement.

Staff have been working without a new contract since January 1. There have been more than two dozen negotiating sessions between employees and management since talks began last December, most of them under the supervision of a Federal Mediator. Both sides remain at odds over wages, health insurance, education and training benefits, and other economic issues.

"We're a ways away on economical issues," Bruce Popper, vice president of the 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, Upstate New York Division said. "We just can't seem to get closer. The moderator called off the talks after seeing that nothing was going to get resolved."

The SEIU represents 325 union-contracted employees of Orleans Community Health including registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and medical technicians, service and maintenance employees.

Talks broke off at midday Tuesday. The federal mediator has called for another meeting on Friday, at 11 a.m. in an attempt to avoid a work stoppage.

Medina Memorial Chief Operating Officer Brian Banas did not return a call placed to his office Tuesday afternoon seeking comment.

According to a statement drafted by the group's 14-member employee negotiating committee, “The nurses and other employees are fed up with the lack of progress toward a settlement. We need to pay competitive wages to maintain a quality care in Medina. Management’s cuts to our health benefits were a particular setback to recruitment and retention of staff. We are trying to reach a reasonable compromise but management will not meet us halfway."

Popper said the 24-hour strike was chosen to minimize the impact on patients and the community. Medina Memorial employees previously held an informational picket outside the facility on May 3.

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