United Healthcare Workers East, SEIU1199, the largest union in the East for non-nursing healthcare workers, started a campaign to rescue its pension plan while simultaneously demanding no reduction in benefits.
RR Described The Process:
The 1199 is the largest union in the north east for non nursing healthcare workers. Almost all of the hospitals in NYC are 1199 hospitals.
In the past couple of months I began seeing “The price of peace” and “Save our Benefits” buttons around my department. My employees were either unsure or unwilling to divulge the issue the slogans represented.
At a managers meeting we learned that the union was requesting the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) be reopened. Evidently their pension fund has lost about 40% since the market fell off a cliff and they were demanding the employers double their per employee contribution!! That is a jump from 6% to 12%, an incredible and unreasonable request.
The league of hospitals responded that if that is to be the case there is going to have to be changes made to the benefits the union employees currently enjoy. Hence the buttons and slogans. In every conversation all I heard was how the horrible employers want to take away the golden benefits of the employees. Never once was mentioned how the Union requested the CBA be reopened and how they want the employer to pick up the tab for their poor investment choices!
Of course the union got their way however the contributions will be in the form of employee raise deferrals directly into the pension plan. The employees get guaranteed 3% increases at least once per year and now these increases will enter the pension fund instead.
It is truly disgusting to me that employers must cater to such outrageous demands. Since the union members also have a 401k I’m surprised they didn’t ask for some kind of reimbursement for those losses. The 1199 and NYSNA unions have some phenomenally generous benefits:
– Higher education completely covered up to doctorate level
– 0$ office visit copays and prescription benefits
– Separate sick time, paid time off and vacation days
At a time when many NYC hospitals are on the brink of financial disaster and ObamaCare looms, I cannot see how these diamond encrusted benefits can possibly continue.
All this will do is postpone the inevitable problems for a date down the road in the not too distant future. No one wants to make the tough choices now.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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