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HEALTH CARE WORKERS from Union 1199 unanimously voted to picket Catskill Regional Medical Center in Harris this Wednesday in response to the layoffs of 68 workers at the hospital. Union 1199 held an informational picket in front of the hospital last Friday.

A Picket Is Coming

By Nathan Mayberg
HARRIS — July 9, 2004 – Health care workers at Catskill Regional Medical Center evidently will not accept 68 recent layoffs without a fight.
Hospital workers from Union 1199 Service Employees International voted unanimously last Friday to hold a picket outside the hospital.
Those who were not laid off will picket during their off-hours, beginning next week. (Under terms of the collective bargaining agreement, the hospital must be notified ten days ahead of any picket.)
Union 1199 represents 330 health care workers at the hospital in Harris, according to its representative, Rosa Lomuscio.
On Friday, Lomuscio was taking turns rushing up to the hospital to meet with hospital officials as well as run the informational picket.
Lomuscio charged that the hospital was violating the collective bargaining agreement by meeting with workers and firing them,without their union representative present. Furthermore, she alleged that the layoffs were in breach of contract. Lomuscio contended that any layoffs must be made according to workers’ experience.
But Debbie Davis, who served as an X-ray transporter for 27 years, was told she was “reengineered.” In other words, Davis was offered part-time work in food service or housekeeping.
“Which I don’t mind,” she said. “It’s a job.”
Lomuscio said that such a job would typically be for two days a week, around 12 hours total.
Some of the hospital’s staff lost jobs that went back as far as 1968, said Lomuscio. She was furious that the hospital was not giving many of its workers what she felt is proper notification of the layoffs. She said her union itself was not notified until the layoffs had already begun.
The union is demanding the hospital present them a copy of its budget.
“Show us what the economic reason is,” pleaded Lomuscio.
She has asked the hospital to present its books, but so far she said the hospital has refused.
“They told us it’s not ready yet. They’ve been telling us that for over a month,” she said.
For 12 hours on Thursday, union representatives met with hospital officials – to no avail, lamented Lomuscio.
“Nothing we said could get them to have a discussion [on the layoffs].”
One worker, Rafael Colon, took issue with a claim by the hospital that workers from the Sullivan County Center for Workforce Development Team or any other counselors were on hand to help assist laid-off workers with the stress.
“I haven’t seen anybody,” he claimed.
CRMC CEO Art Brien could not be reached for comment.
Susan Nichols, a nurse’s aide who voted for the picket, had conflicting emotions.
“It’s not good at all,” she said of the staff cuts. But she was hopeful “they’ll do something about it and nobody will get laid off.”
John Rusinko, a union delegate who works in maintenance, called the cuts “terrible,” fearing patient discomfort with new faces treating them.
Plus . . . “you have the summer season coming up,” he stated.

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