July 2014- The League and 1199 have reached a tentative agreement, extending their existing collective bargaining agreement until 2018.
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1199 Union Forgoing Raises to Aid Pension
By STEVEN GREENHOUSE
Published: July 20, 2009
Facing a crisis in its pension fund, 1199, New York’s giant health care union, reached an innovative settlement on Monday that calls for forgoing nearly a billion dollars in raises for 145,000 union members so that hospitals can increase their pension contributions to safeguard future retirement benefits.
The union, formally called 1199 S.E.I.U. United Healthcare Workers East, agreed to a wage freeze for next year, but also — in a move that parallels Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s proposal for municipal employees — accepted less generous pensions for future hires.
With the union’s pension fund losing $3.5 billion — or one-third its value — in recent years, mostly because of losses in stock market investments, 1199 feared that the fund would have to reduce promised pension payments to not only 48,000 current retirees, but also tens of thousands of current workers.
To restore the fund’s financial health, the tentative agreement calls for scrapping the 3 percent raise planned for December and redirecting that money into the pension fund, along with a second fund that pays for health benefits.
The pension crisis was so severe that 1199 and the League of Voluntary Hospitals and Homes of New York, which represents 108 hospitals and nursing homes, took the unusual step of negotiating this agreement more than two years before the union’s current contract was due to expire.
“Never before in the history of this collective bargaining agreement have we faced the kinds of challenges that we have been confronting in this bargaining,” said Bruce McIver, president of the league, whose members include Mount Sinai, NewYork-Presbyterian, Montefiore, St. Vincent’s and Beth Israel.
As a result of the wage concessions the union agreed to, the league’s members will increase annual contributions to the pension funds in several steps to 15.8 percent of payroll in 2012, up from 6.75 percent of payroll this year.
“Our goal was to save our benefits for the future — all our benefits, and we were absolutely able to do that,” said George Gresham, president of 1199 “And the pension fund should be healthy at the end of this rehabilitation period.”
The tentative agreement expires on April 30, 2015, and supersedes the current agreement, which was set to expire on Sept. 30, 2011. The union’s membership still must ratify the settlement.
The agreement calls for many concessions beyond the wage freeze this year. To help direct more money into the pension and health funds, the two sides agreed that one-third of the 3 percent wage increase scheduled for Dec. 1, 2010, will also be directed into those funds. The other two-thirds of that wage increase will go into effect on March 1, 2011.
The settlement calls for no raises in 2012, but instead a lump-sum payment of 2.5 percent that year. The agreement calls for a 2.5 percent wage increase on Oct. 1, 2013, and another 2.5 percent on Oct. 1, 2014.
The agreement would allow either side to insist on reopening it in September 2013
Dear [Mr./Ms./Dr. CEO Name],
1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the League of Voluntary Hospitals and Homes of New York and the 1199SEIU National Benefit Fund, in collaboration with the New York City Health Department, are committed to providing 1199SEIU members with a wide range of wellness programs. To this end, we encourage [hospital name] to join two Health Department initiatives designed to enhance the health of your employees, patients, and visitors – the Healthy Hospital Food Initiative and the Tobacco-Free Hospitals Campaign.
The Healthy Hospital Food Initiative provides hospitals with food guidelines for patient meals, vending machines, and retail locations to complement your current efforts to provide a healthy food environment. Health Department staff can support your efforts with technical assistance and will publicize your progress by annually recognizing your achievements.
The Tobacco-Free Hospitals Campaign helps hospitals achieve excellence related to employee cessation programs and patient assessment and treatment for tobacco use. The Health Department will provide resources and technical assistance for hospitals to improve employee health and fulfill Joint Commission and Meaningful Use tobacco-related measures. Joining this campaign will support your efforts to create a comprehensive system to promote a tobacco-free environment and help people quit smoking.
Enclosed please find fuller descriptions and a sample letter to indicate your commitment to join the Healthy Hospital Food Initiative and the Tobacco-Free Hospitals Campaign. Both programs are supported by a time-limited federal grant; therefore, we encourage you to enroll by September 30th. The key contact for each program is:
Healthy Hospital Food Initiative
Erica Krepp, MS, CHES
(347) 396-4325; firstname.lastname@example.org
Tobacco-Free Hospitals Campaign
Marie Bresnahan, MPH
(347) 396-4550; email@example.com
We are confident that, working together, we can make significant progress in creating hospital worksites that promote good health.
George Gresham, President Bruce McIver, President
1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East League of Voluntary Hospitals and Homes
Maria Castaneda, Secretary-Treasurer Thomas Farley, MD, MPH, Commissioner
1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Mitra Behroozi, Executive Director
1199SEIU National Benefit Fund