Last week’s new offer from Crozer-Chester Medical Center included an improved Pension proposal, improved Health Insurance proposal, enhanced retirement contributions for RNs age 58 years or older, and a Voluntary Lay-off/Early Retirement incentive (VERP) program. The Union promised to provide a comprehensive response to our proposal at our meeting on February 24, 2015. But the Union failed to deliver.
The Union did not even respond to the early retirement program until we insisted on a response. When they did, they seem to express no interest in it.
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Instead, the Union distributed a 4-page document they said showed their movement toward an agreement. In an apparent attempt to persuade their own members, the Union opened the document – not with any proposals – but with the opinion that “…the negotiations remain productive and fluid and we are confident we will successfully reach a new agreement.” And, “from a legal standpoint, it’s our view that these negotiations remain far from an impasse.”
We disagree. Not only did the Union’s document contain no real movement at all, it took several steps backwards – making it even harder to come to an agreement.
Several of the Union’s proposals were “regressive” in that they reneged upon or withdrew offers that had previously been made. The Union also introduced what they represented to be a “new” or “alternative pension proposal” – but this was the same proposal they had given us on November 6, with one section simply restating the same proposal in different words. The Union claimed that they were making movement on the income surcharge, but their proposal was worse than the one they had made on September 17 and worse than one they had made on September 23rd.
In addition, the Union bargaining team presented incomplete proposals, took a two-hour lunch break, and could not be found when the Medical Center’s team was prepared to resume negotiations. Finally, when the Union team took a caucus to review and respond to the Medical Center’s new Unpaid Leave proposal, they broke for the day and never returned to the bargaining table.
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By simply going through the motions, making regressive proposals, and continuing their present course of bargaining conduct, the Union is engaging in unlawful “surface bargaining.”
Unless the Union comes to the table prepared to make significant movement, we will soon be at an impasse – instead of reaching the agreement they profess to want.