UPDATE, 9:56 PM: I just got a statement (see below) from MPTF CEO Bob Beitcher about the SEIU’s planned three-day strike. Expressing “surprise and disappointment” on the labor action, Beitcher says that “on Monday we will begin polling our represented employees on their intention to report to work during the strike and will initiate plans to replace those who are choosing to honor the strike.”
PREVIOUSLY, 7:32 PM: The union that represents workers at the Motion Picture and Television Fund facilities today gave management a strike notice. Unless a deal on a new three-year contract is reached in the next 10 days, the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West intends to hit the picket line for three days starting late on March 18. Further action could follow. The notice comes a day after another bad bargaining session between the union and management that left the SEIU feeling that had no choice but to move towards escalating the situation “The MPTF don’t want to discuss anything but what they have put on the table. They had no interest in anything the union had to offer. It is the very definition of unfair labor practices,” a source close to events told me tonight. Another session is scheduled for March 13. However, I’ve learned that the union is willing to sit down on other days if management will too. Today’s move should come as no surprise as the SEIU had said after a previous bad bargaining session on February 14 that such an escalation action would be their next move if future meetings also resulted in no movement towards an agreement.
The SEIU represents about 500 nurses, their aides, medical-records workers and other caregivers at the MPTF’s Wasserman Camus in Woodland Hills. Union members at the MPTF’s care facility and hospital overwhelming voted to authorize strike action on January 30. The union and management have been in talks about a new contract since August 2012. The SEIU says wages, low staffing levels, raised health care premiums and frozen retirement contributions are the main issues on the table. MPTF CEO Bob Beitcher told employees on January 31 that staffing levels were not part of the bargaining. On February 21, SEIU members staged a protest outside MPTF facilities. A small number of union members also turned up at Jeffrey Katzenberg’s 11th Annual ‘Night Before’ Oscars Fundraiser benefitting the MPTF on February 23rd attempting to hand out leaflets to guests at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
March 8 Statement from MPTF CEO Bob Beitcher:
To our surprise and disappointment, we were advised this afternoon that our SEIU-UHW bargaining unit intends a three-day strike beginning on Monday evening March 18th and ending on Thursday evening March 21st. Yesterday we had a productive session with the bargaining unit and a Federal mediator and had another session scheduled for Wednesday, March 13th, so we consider the timing of this regrettable action on SEIU-UHW’s part very unfortunate. During the bargaining period, we have provided SEIU-UHW with all of the information requested and while they have not reciprocated, we have nevertheless continued to bargain in good faith and continue to try to find an avenue toward resolution. All of MPTF’s employees, those represented and those who are not, contribute to the outstanding services we provide. We must continue our operations which are so essential to those we serve. Consequently, on Monday we will begin polling our represented employees on their intention to report to work during the strike and will initiate plans to replace those who are choosing to honor the strike. We want to assure all of our stakeholders across the industry that MPTF will continue to provide the highest quality of care for our residents and patients alike during the time the union is away from their jobs.