Kaleida Health strike cost could exceed $142M monthly, CEO says

Amid contract negotiations with two unions, officials with Buffalo, N.Y.-based Kaleida Health estimate that the economic cost of a strike could exceed $142 million per month, Buffalo Business First reported Sept. 29.

Members of Communications Workers of America Local 1168 and 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East have authorized negotiation leaders to call a strike at Kaleida Health. However, no strike has officially been called as the unions and Kaleida work to reach an agreement. 

In the event of a strike, Kaleida Health officials estimate costs in the tens of millions of expenses, including $50 million monthly due to temporarily stopping elective surgeries and procedures and decreasing available hospital beds, according to Buffalo Business First.

Officials said part of the total cost would also include $23 million weekly due to bringing in replacement workers, according to the publication.

"It would be very difficult for me to even begin to articulate how devastating a strike would be for our community and how long-lasting the impact from that will be," Don Boyd, Kaleida CEO, told Buffalo Business First. "We would need to continue to provide a certain level of access across the whole system in the event a strike would be across the system. That said, that's not our goal, and I believe it's also labor’s goal to avoid that."

The unions represent about 6,300 workers at Kaleida Health's Buffalo General Medical Center, Oishei Children's Hospital, Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, HighPointe on Michigan, DeGraff Medical Park, and various community-based clinics, according to a Sept. 15 union news release shared with Becker's. Kaleida Health has about 10,000 employees total.

Kaleida Health said in a Sept. 15 statement that it seeks a fair contract "that includes no concessionary bargaining, addressing staffing needs, and once again becoming the market leader in wages."  

The unions said members seek a contract that will allow Kaleida Health to recruit and retain workers and meet required safe staffing ratios so patients receive quality care.

"We are fighting for a fair contract that will make safe staffing in our hospitals a reality," Jim Scordato, 1199SEIU Vice President for Western New York Hospitals, said in a Sept. 15 union news release shared with Becker's. "Kaleida was financially impacted by the pandemic, as all hospitals were, but we cannot let its financial losses continue to dictate the quality of care within its hospitals and quality of life for its workforce."

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