708-member St. E';s union soundly rejects contract proposal

Staff report


Members of Teamsters Local 377 at St. Elizabeth Health Center on Belmont Avenue rejected a new contract with Humility of Mary Health Partners, parent company of St. Elizabeth.

The vote, which concluded around 6 p.m. Wednesday, was 2-1 against the proposed pact, said Rob Schuler, chief negotiator for Local 377.

The union’s bargaining committee had recommended the contract be rejected.

The major sticking point between St. E’s and Local 377, which represents 708 service and maintenance employees at the Youngstown hospital, is health benefits, specifically the amount of co-pays at doctor’s offices and deductibles, or the amount of the medical bill paid by employees before insurance kicks in, Schuler said.

Also, the hospital wanted to change overtime work rules from daily overtime to weekly overtime, he added.

He said the union would inform the hospital of the results of the contract vote and indicate a desire to go back to the bargaining table and “work this thing out.”

Local 377’s contract expired May 24, but there was an extension to June 11, after which there has been no contract, Schuler said.

He added he thinks the hospital underestimated the determination and frustration of the employees.

An HMHP representative said Wednesday night the company is disappointed the proposal was not accepted.

“This proposal is the agreed upon contract accepted by the Teamster membership at St. Joseph Health Center earlier this year, and it provides our employees with a market-competitive benefits package,” said Molly Seals, senior vice president of human resources.

HMHP said it has established tiers of health insurance cost-sharing to ensure that higher-paid associates share a larger percentage of health care costs.

The proposal provides a more than 6 percent pay increase over the three years of the contract, the company also said.

“This more than defrays the percentage increase in premium costs,” Seals said.

“If you look at the current proposal as a whole and consider the job reclassification provisions in addition to the first-year across-the-board wage increases, individuals will experience increases from 2 to 8 percent in the first year,” she added.

HMHP said its proposal locks in premium-sharing for the contract term and freezes co-pays and deductibles until 2012, providing additional stability for employees in the economic recession.

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