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June 20, 2013

CVPH union pickets for raises, staffing levels

PLATTSBURGH — Raises and guaranteed staffing levels were issues raised by the New York State Nurses Association as members picketed outside CVPH Medical Center on Wednesday afternoon.

“The employees are not feeling very valued right now,” union representative Sandra Guynup said.

The union’s contract with CVPH expired on Dec. 31, 2012; its 800 registered nurses and 250 dietitians, physical and occupational therapists, pharmacists, physicians assistants, nurse practitioners and varied other hospital employees are working under the provisions of that agreement.

Guynup, who also represents Alice Hyde Medical Center, Adirondack Medical Center and Canton-Potsdam Hospital, said CVPH’s wages are not competitive.

“They (CVPH) always tout themselves as the big medical center. So if you’re the big medical center, it would seem to me that you should be competitive with the other hospitals, which are much smaller,” she said.

TWO ‘SUPPOSALS’

“We went back to the negotiating table on May 22,” CVPH Vice President of Human Resources Michelle LeBeau said in a separate interview. With the aid of a mediator, “we ended the conversation by providing two supposals.”

“One would freeze step (increases) for a year, May 31, 2013, to June 1, 2014,” she said.

And all union members would receive a 1.5 percent raise on July 1.

Then, LeBeau continued, 1.5 percent raises would follow, across the board, on Jan. 1, 2014, and Jan. 1, 2015, “with steps no longer frozen.”

The second “supposal” — not an actual proposal but a suggestion for the union to consider — involved no step-increase freeze “but no monetary increases outside of steps” this year, 2014 and 2015, she said.

The union, LeBeau said, wants a minimum of 9 percent in raises plus step increases over the next three years.

“We still have some distance between us,” she said.

STEP INCREASES

A hospital employee receives a minimum 1.5 percent raise per year for step increases, LeBeau said.

At the demonstration, Karen Prevo, a registered nurse for 21 years, said they should be entitled to those increases in pay because they earn them.

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