Teamsters from Rhode Island Hospital and supporters from other unions and the community flooded the Union Hall to launch our Campaign for a Fair Contract. Here’s a video of some of the highlights. If you missed the action, don’t worry. There’s more coming. Contract negotiations won’t be a closed-door affair this time. The issues at Rhode Island Hospital affect thousands of workers, their families and the community. We’re putting the issues on the table and out in the open so together we can win Good Jobs and Quality Care.
Negotiations began with an Opening Statement by President Paul Santos who made it very clear that the Union’s approach to contract negotiations will be different this time around and there will be no secret deals.
The Union presented the Bargaining Platform that was approved by the members on Saturday.
The Union and management agreed on ground rules for fair negotiations.
Epic, Job Security, Wages Training, & Promotions
The Union Bargaining Team then presented proposals to protect job security and wage rates while Epic is implemented and to make sure employees have full training opportunities for potential future promotions.
We also proposed that positions be filled during training so that other employees don’t have an extra workload. Management will respond to these proposals in the next negotiations.
Epic Certified Trainer Positions
The two sides discussed the Epic Certified Trainer positions. Management is adamant that they will fill these positions as temporary, non-union jobs. Pay would start at a minimum of $27.90/hr.
According to management, Teamsters who apply to be Epic Certified Trainers would lose all union protections from unfair discipline while they are in these positions. Applicants would only be able to return to their previous job during the first two weeks.
Employees would be granted the right to return to their previous job or an equivalent union position upon completion of the 4 to 6 month trainer assignment,
These are management’s positions and the Union does not agree with them. We have filed a grievance against Epic Certified Trainer jobs being nonunion.
But under the rules of the current contract, management cannot be stopped from filling the Trainer positions as temporary, non-union jobs until that grievance is heard by an arbitrator. This could take several months.
Negotiations will continue on October 29. Lou Sperling promised to give counterproposals on Epic at the next meeting. Both sides will also present proposals for contract language changes.
“It was a very productive meeting,” said Union Committee member Tony Suazo. “We got our message across to management and the message was heard.”
Bob Antaya, another committee member said, “Rank-and-file members were there to see the process for ourselves. It really shows how the Union works. Local 251 is making sure members’ issues are on the table and being heard.”
Six Teamster employees from the Hospital are on the Union Bargaining Committee. Four other Teamster employees observed the negotiations.
In all, Teamsters were present from Clerical, CNA, Materials Management, Radiology, Environmental Services, Facilities, Central Transport, Central Research, and Food and Nutrition.
Local 251 officers and staff at the bargaining table included Paul Santos, Principal Officer Matt Taibi, Business Agent Eddie Carreiro, Contract Coordinator David Robbins and Contract Negotiator Stefan Ostrach.
To begin negotiations, Local 251 President Paul Santos gave the following Opening Statement to Lou Sperling and management’s bargaining committee.
Before we begin, I want to make a few things clear about our goals and our approach.
Local 251 operates very differently since our new leadership team was chosen by the members. In our 10 months in office, I think we’ve made that pretty clear.
The last contract was negotiated by individuals who were very distant from the members they represented. They had no idea what it was like to be a Teamster working for Rhode Island Hospital.
I have worked at this Hospital for 27 years. The Teamsters who work at this Hospital are my brothers and sisters. They’re my family. And so are the UNAP nurses and techs.
The last contract was bargained behind closed doors in negotiations that were kept secret from the members.
Shutting the members out of negotiations resulted in a contract that didn’t address the issues and concerns of Teamsters at this Hospital.
In the last five years, problems have festered. Workforce morale has declined. Working here for so many years, I witnessed it personally.
There were also a series side-deals that were negotiated behind the backs of Teamster employees.
I want to be very clear about something: That was then. This is now.
The era of secret negotiations and side deals is over.
It is the members that sent us to this negotiating table and it is the members that we will serve.
This principle has informed every step that we have taken.
We began our preparations for contract negotiations with a Bargaining Survey so every member had the opportunity to speak out on the issues.
We compiled the results of the survey into a Bargaining Platform that summarizes members’ concerns and objectives for these negotiations.
On Saturday, Teamster employees from this hospital packed our Union Hall. They voted unanimously to approve the Bargaining Platform that we will review with you today.
And they voted unanimously to approve this contract negotiating committee.
Working Teamsters are the backbone of this hospital. We care for the patients and clean them.
Teamsters prepare food for patients and their families, wash their laundry, make their beds and clean their rooms.
Teamsters transport patients to where they need to go and take care of their medical records.
Every aspect of Hospital administration rests on a foundation of Teamster secretaries and clerical staff.
Rhode Island Hospital’s departments and medical units function because Teamster warehouse workers, transporters and unit assistants process and deliver the supplies.
It is working Teamsters who literally keep the lights on in this Hospital, keep the walls up, keep clean air circulating, keep the water flowing.
Working Teamsters are the hearts and bone of this institution. But too often they are made to feel invisible, underappreciated, disrespected, and voiceless.
The members of this Negotiating Committee are here to be their voice and to make sure their voices are heard.
We intend to bargain hard and negotiate real improvements: economic improvements and improved contract language as well.
Good Jobs and Quality Patient Care. That is our driving mission.
Better working conditions for Teamster members means better care for patients and their families.
We will bargain in good faith and we expect you to do the same.
Despite rumors, we are not intending to strike. I am sure that you share our feeling that a strike and strike rumors do not benefit the Hospital, its patients or their families.
We are united for a fair contract, good jobs and quality patient care. And we are prepared to do what it takes to achieve these goals.
As we sit down for these negotiations, the Hospital is preparing to implement Epic which is a massive endeavor.
Negotiating this contract—after so many years without meaningful contract negotiations—is no small endeavor either.
We will be putting a comprehensive series of proposals on the table to address the issues that have been raised by the 2,500 Teamsters at this hospital.
We intend to negotiate thoroughly and seriously.
We will be keeping the Teamster workers we represent fully informed throughout negotiations.
This is their contract. They have to work under it every day. And they will continue to have a say throughout these negotiations and this contract campaign.
The Negotiating Committee includes Local 251 officers and representatives as well as Teamsters who work at the Hospital, including: Bob Antaya (Facilities), Armando Brasil (CNA), Decio Goulart (Laundry), Brooke Reeves (Clerical), Gary DaSilva (MRI) and Antonio Suazo (Transport).
The Local 251 officers and representatives on the Negotiating Committee include: Secretary-Treasurer Matthew Taibi, President Paul Santos, Contract Coordinator David Robbins, Business Agent Eddie Carreiro and Negotiator/Spokesperson Stefan Ostrach.
Employees spoke out about job security, fair wages, safe staffing, harassment, retirement security, and other issues.
Members voted to unanimously approve our Bargaining Platform and the Negotiating Committee that will bring our issues to Hospital management starting on Oct. 21.
To win a good contract, management needs to see we are all concerned about these issues and united for a fair contract.
Here’s how you can stay informed:
* Text CONTRACT to 313131 so sign up to receive Contract Updates by text message.
* Call the Teamster Contract Hotline at 888-837-4536. It will be updated whenever there is contract news to report.
* Read Contract Bulletins. If you can help pass out updates in your work area, talk to a Liaison to get copies or just download them from the website. Click here to download a report on the Contract Kickoff. Click here to download the Bargaining Platform approved by the members.
Together, we’ll keep everyone informed & united for a fair contract.
We began the year by cutting officer pay by $300,000 and investing your dues money in the real source of our union’s power: the membership.
We asked members to step up and get more involved in our union and you have answered the call.
- Winning Good Contracts: Members have gotten involved on Negotiating Committees and in contract campaigns. Our new approach to negotiations is paying off in contract wins.
- Enforcing Our Rights: Every Local 251 members now has the right to elect their shop steward. Stewards new and old have turned out for a series of workshops to share strategies for enforcing our contracts and defending our members.
- Building Unity: We are building unity and putting the old divisions behind us. Members have turned out for union rallies, picket lines and to raise money for good causes like pediatric cancer research.
We’re building new alliances with unions and community groups like Jobs with Justice to help Teamsters and all workers win a better future.
The Fall 2014 Teamsters Local 251 Report shares the news about what we’ve accomplished together so far this year.
Some of our biggest work is ahead of us, including contract negotiations for close to 2,500 Teamsters at Rhode Island Hospital.
As the issue is being mailed out to members, members at the Hospital are launching a contract campaign.
We’re uniting Teamsters, other unions and the community to win good jobs, a fair contract and quality care for patients and their families.
Local 251 members are showing the power Teamsters can have when we get involved and work together. United, we win!
Local 251 Secretary-Treasurer
The Fall 2014 issue of the Local 251 report is in the mail to members.
Check out the report to read updates on the Rhode Island Hospital contract campaign and organizing victories at Woonsocket Housing Authority, Airgas, Petro, First Student, Fall River DPW, Cardi Ready Mix, PJ Keating, Twin River Casino, UPS and more. The Report includes reports on Local 251 events and info on applying for a Local 251 Scholarship award.
International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 251 is seeking an experienced office professional for our East Providence, RI office. This position receives general supervision from the Office Manager, the Secretary Treasurer and their designees.
Negotiations on our new Union contract with the Hospital are around the corner.
Come to the Contract Kickoff Meeting at 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 18 at Local 251.
- Discuss our contract goals and Bargaining Platform.
- Talk about what it will take to win higher wages and better retirement benefits—and address problems like job security, EPIC, understaffing, workplace fairness and more.
- This is your contract and your future. Have your say and show your support!
The Contract Action Team includes more than 50 stewards and volunteers from different departments and shifts. Every member will have a voice and vote on the Bargaining Platform at the Contract Kickoff Meeting at 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 18 at Local 251.
You have filled out contract surveys, spoken out on the issues and made your voices heard.
Members identified higher wages, better retirement benefits, and protecting our healthcare as the top economic priorities.
You also named job security, understaffing, and harassment among top issues that need to be addressed.
Instead of dealing with these problems, management said the current contract should be extended for another year, with no changes in contract language. Management called for a one-time bonus and no wage increases.
The Contract Action Team (CAT) voted unanimously against this approach. It’s time to deal with members’ concerns and negotiate a new contract.
The Contract Action Team includes more than 50 stewards and volunteers from different departments and shifts. Their job is to keep members informed and united throughout negotiations.
Local 251 members elected a Contract Negotiating Committee as part of the voting for shop stewards in February.
The Negotiating Committee and the CAT are going through the surveys and putting together contract proposals. This includes proposals to protect members’ job security and rights as the Hospital prepares to implement EPIC.
The Bargaining Platform will be presented to the members at an important Contract Meeting on Saturday, October 18.
Stay informed. Stay united!