An 11th hour agreement between Eastern Long Island Hospital management and a union representing health care professionals prevented a further standoff after union members picketed outside the Greenport hospital Thursday, July 12.
The picketers from 1199 SEUI United Health Care Workers Union — nurses, radiologists, nursing assistants, physical therapists, social workers and other ELIH employees — camped outside the hospital from for three hours to protest what they said was management’s plan to cut their pensions, job stability and job training opportunities.
Sharin Thomson, a union organizer, said the group gave management at the hospital a deadline of July 13 to present a better contract.
The hospital met that deadline, and a contract agreement was reached before midnight on Friday, avoiding a strike.
Among other benefits, Ms. Thomson said, the new contract calls for a 3 percent raise annually for the next three years, a 3 percent retiree bonus, the continuation of medical coverage with no out-of-pocket costs, and the continued availability of child care for working parents.
Union representatives from hospitals across Long Island and New York City met at a hotel in Times Square Friday morning and didn’t leave until around 1:30 a.m. Saturday to work out the agreement, Ms. Thomson said, adding that the long day was worth it.
“People are so happy,” she said. “We walked through the whole hospital and people were saying thank you so much for all your hard work.”
Ms. Thomson said nearly 50 percent of the hospital’s union membership participated in the rally Thursday.
“One hundred percent of the institution is unionized,” Ms. Thomson said at the rally. “We have about 325 workers here … Workers deserve raises, training, benefits — and that’s what management is trying to take away and cut.”
ELIH president and CEO Paul Connor said prior to the agreement that informational picketing was a standard part of the negotiating process, adding that both parties had been negotiating in good faith to produce a new multi-year collective bargaining agreement.
Photo caption: Picketers outside Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport earlier this month. (Credit: Nicole Smith)