BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - The next chapter begins in the Kaleida contract battle Thursday, with both sides heading back to the bargaining table. This comes on the heels of Wednesday's passage of a strike authorization vote by Kaleida's 7,000 unionized health care workers.
Union workers feel they gave concessions to Kaleida in a contract two years ago when the company was having troubles, troubles they feel no longer exist.
CWA Local 1168 President Cori Gambini said, "The buildings are going up, they're building a city within a city on the medical campus. They just recently announced a huge expansion at Suburban, so the members are seeing a lot of money go into the bricks and mortar, and not investing into the heart and soul of the company which is the health care workers."
Three unions represent the nearly 7,000 workers who voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike. A lot of compromise has been accomplished between the unions and Kaleida, but the economic issues remain the stumbling block. Pay raises, health care and staffing remain the key issues to be worked out.
The two sides are set to sit down for a bargaining session Thursday morning.
1199 SEIU President Jim Scordato said, "We'll be there early and ready to bargain. And as other people on our team have said, the ball is in Kaleida's court."
Thursday morning, Kaleida Health released the following statement.
"A strike authorization vote is a frequently utilized tactic by unions in negotiations. It allows (but does not require), via their by-laws and constitutions, the union bargaining committee to call a strike after the contract expires, if they deem a work stoppage is necessary.
With the strike vote now authorized by the membership, the union may issue Kaleida Health management a notice of intent to strike in 10 days. Therefore, no job action can occur until after June 21, 2013.
"Any discussion about a strike at this point is extremely premature. Management and labor are scheduled to resume bargaining today."
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