SJEH Interns Approve New Contract
By Miriam Rosenberg
Interns at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital ratified a new contract on September 30, which grants them a raise and payment of health benefit premium increases. The successful conclusion to the collective bargaining between the hospital and the Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU came six weeks after interns conducted an informational picket outside the hospital to bring the issue to the public’s attention.
“The members were able to win a respectable salary increase of nine percent over three years and an agreement that the hospital will pay for the full cost of the health benefit increases,” said CIR SEIU union representative Pat Fry (who was heading up the negotiations).
Previous starting salary for residents was $42,000 for an 80 hour, six-day workweek. According to the union, St. John’s residents had been working without a contract for a year.
While the resident’s last raise was in August 2004, it was health care costs that were the main sticking point of the negotiations. At the time of the picket on August 19, Fry told The Wave “Health care costs are up all over the country and health care for the residents are up too.
The hospital says it won’t pay for the increase and the residents have to pay for it.”
Fry said the union allowed the residents’ annual August raises to be delayed this year so the union could concentrate on health benefits. “In addition, the hospital dropped their demand to take away due process rights,” Fry said.
The issue of removing due process – being unable to suspend or fire someone without a hearing – from the contract was a fairly new one put on the table recently by the hospital.
The new contract is retroactive to September 1 of this year.
“The health care services provided by St. John’s Episcopal are critical to the well-being of Far Rockaway,” explained Fry. “Our members work diligently and around the clock to deliver the best possible care, and now they have well-deserved improvements in their collective bargaining agreement.”
About the new contract and the change in stance on medical benefits St. John’s released a statement saying “The hospital recently successfully reached a collective bargaining agreement with the Committee of Interns and Residents that was a result of a compromise arrived at through the process of negotiation.”