CLEVELAND — As negotiations between caregivers at Lutheran Hospital and the Cleveland Clinic continue, a potential strike looms.
On Tuesday, SEIU 1199 caregivers at Cleveland Clinic Lutheran Hospital hand delivered a notice that "they intend to go on an unfair labor practice (ULP) strike beginning on Labor Day, September 4th."
"This notice was delivered as a direct result of the union having to file over two dozen ULP charges with the National Labor Relations Board against Lutheran Hospital for issues such as refusal to furnish information, illegal union busting activities, retaliation, discrimination, among others," the union said in a release. "Cleveland Clinic blatantly discriminates against some of the lowest paid caregivers, who are predominantly women and people of color. These caregivers are deprived of paid maternity and parental leave, employer-paid disability coverage, 403(b) retirement security, and must work more hours to be eligible for hospital benefits than their counterparts."
Following Tuesday's announcement, the Cleveland Clinic provided the following statement to 3News: “We want to assure the community that care for patients at Lutheran Hospital will go on uninterrupted. We plan to continue negotiating with the bargaining unit at Lutheran Hospital with the goal of achieving a mutually agreeable contract renewal. We appreciate the loyalty and dedication of all our caregivers at Lutheran Hospital.”
"The ball is in their court at this point. They've waged this war and we are not backing down until we have equity and equality for all union caregivers," said Vanessa Dalesandro, SEIU District 1199 director.
The notice comes nearly one month after the union first voted to authorize a potential strike among ongoing negotiations following the expiration of its previous collective bargaining agreement earlier this year. Workers have claimed the hospital "has refused to bargain in good faith with the union" and also say the National Labor Relations Board is investigating more than 20 allegations against Clinic management that include "refusal to furnish information, illegal union busting activities, retaliation, [and] discrimination."
"I mean we've met 19 times now and they've been ineffective and unproductive and we need the hospital to come to the table and bargain in good faith," Dalesandro added. "They had wages on the table at 1.5% which is nothing in comparison to the day-to-day necessities so there's just nothing that they have put on the table that definitely would make caregivers feel appreciated and valued."
Last week, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), U.S. Representatives Shontel Brown (D-OH-11) and Emilia Sykes (D-OH-13), Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb, and Cuyahoga County Executive Chris Ronayne wrote a joint letter to the leadership at Cleveland Clinic’s Lutheran Hospital, "urging them to work to reach an equitable agreement with the workers at the Lutheran Hospital as soon as possible."
“Like you, these workers care deeply about the health of their community and are committed to ensuring patients get the best possible care," the letter, which can be read in full here, reads. "We urge you to find a way toward reaching a fair and equitable agreement in a timely manner, and we will continue to encourage SEIU leadership to do the same. We appreciate your time and attention to this matter, as well as the Clinic’s leadership and partnership on many issues, and look forward to continued work with you and your team to serve the health care needs of Ohioans."