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Bayside’s Ozanam Hall workers union votes to strike

More than 400 members of UFCW Local 342 work at Ozanam nursing home in Bayside. Photo courtesy UFCW Local 342
TimesLedger Newspapers

Labor negotiations have not reached a tipping point yet at Bayside’s Ozanam Hall nursing home, but members of the UFCW Local 342 union voted Monday to authorize a strike, the group said.

“The members voted ‘yes’ to authorize a strike,” said Kate Meckler, the union’s director of communications. “But that doesn’t mean they are on strike or will strike.”

According to Ozanam Hall management, the home’s financial troubles are rooted in the state’s attempts to reduce Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements. The home said it has negotiated in good faith with the workers union and hopes Local 342 will recognize the financial crisis and long-range implications.

“We understand the employees’ frustration and we have made proposals, which take into account the employees’ needs and the home’s long-term crisis,” Ozanam Hall said in a statement. “So far, the union has rejected our proposals. Neither side has declared an impasse and more negotiations are scheduled.”

Meckler said the union must give 10 days’ notice before a strike, and Monday’s majority vote only gave the union the ability to let Ozanam Hall know that members have authorized a strike if necessary.

A bargaining committee made up of union members would make the final call on whether or not to strike, Meckler said.

“The members are tired and fed up,” Meckler said. “If necessary, we’ll now have the ability to strike.”

The 432-bed facility, at 42-41 201st St., is administered by the Catholic Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm and has been serving elderly residents with both short-term rehabilitation and geriatric care in Bayside for more than 30 years..

According to the more than 400 union members at the home, cuts in hours have forced them to take on more work, lessening the quality of care for their patients.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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