Aug 18, 2023 - Health

SEIU 1199 calls out Cleveland Clinic during contract negotiations

Members of SEIU 1199 march down Cleveland's W. 25th Street, holding sign reading, "Be Fair to Those Who Care"

Members of SEIU 1199 circled Lutheran Hospital in a rally and march Wednesday. Photo: Sam Allard/Axios

Service employees at Lutheran Hospital in Ohio City staged a rally and informational picket Wednesday afternoon, calling out Cleveland Clinic for refusing to negotiate a new union contract in good faith.

Why it matters: The 170 unionized workers at Lutheran — including licensed practical nurses, maintenance workers and physical therapy assistants — are among the only unionized workers in Cleveland Clinic's massive workforce.

The latest: The Service Employees International Union 1199 and Cleveland Clinic representatives are to meet for a bargaining session Friday, the third in recent weeks.

What they're saying: "This is for equity and equality," Brian Higgins, a 14-year Lutheran employee, told Axios at the demonstration. "We're fighting for equal health care and benefits that the rest of the clinic's employees get."

  • Those benefits include sick leave and maternity and paternity leave, in addition to pay raises, Higgins said.

The other side: Cleveland Clinic told Axios that, contrary to SEIU's claims, it has been bargaining in good faith.

  • "Our goal is to achieve a mutually agreeable contract renewal as we have in years past," a spokesperson said in a statement.

The intrigue: County Executive Chris Ronayne and state Rep. Juanita Brent appeared at the demonstration to support SEIU 1199.

  • On the campaign trail last year, Ronayne proposed a community health equity fund supported by a payment in lieu of taxes agreement with Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals, which could generate $39 million per year for community health initiatives.

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