LET’S GET SOME ASSISTANCE: Members of the Service Employees International Union’s Local 1199 protested Oct. 2 outside of Staten Island University Hospital on behalf of about 100 Physician Assistants, who the union claimed were being pressured to decertify after voting to organize six months ago. Although the hospital’s management, Northwell Health, stated it would work to reach a fair contract, the union said that the management team has not budged on PAs participating in 1199’s benefit funds.

Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union held an informational picket outside of Staten Island University Hospital Oct. 2 to protest what it called an attempt by hospital management to get Physician Assistants who recently joined the union to decertify.

In April, more than 60 percent of the Physician Assistants at the hospital voted in favor of joining Local 1199. But the union is claiming that the hospital’s management, Northwell Health, has been showing the PAs anti-union videos to pressure them to decertify.

‘Not Fair and Square’

“We don’t like to go public, but at a certain point, if the other side isn’t doing things fair and square, we have no choice but to let the public know about this bad conduct,” said Steve Kramer, the union’s executive vice president.

The union also stated that hospital management has refused to budge on a major issue: allowing Physician Assistants to participate in 1199’s benefit funds.

A spokesman for Northwell said that it had met with 1199 five times since negotiations began in June.

“We are committed to working with the union to resolve any outstanding issues and reach a fair contract that enables us to continue to provide exceptional care to the community,” said Christian Preston, Northwell’s director of public affairs for Staten Island University Hospital.

About 100 Physician Assistants voted to join the union. Local 1199 represents about 3,000 members at the hospital in every title except for the nurses.

‘Not in This Alone’

“The Physician Assistants aren’t in this alone,” Cathleen O’Brien, an emergency-room technician at the hospital. “If they get jobbed, we get jobbed. We want the hospital to do right by these hard workers.”

The union insisted that the gathering was not a strike, but Mr. Kramer added that “We’re not going to accept this blatant attempt to try to get these workers to decertify from 1199.”


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