UTICA, N.Y. – Mohawk Valley Health System has reached an agreement with three out of four labor unions to furlough employees for four months as part of its coronavirus recovery plan.
The New York State United Teachers, Communications Workers of America, and United Food and Commercial Workers agreed to the terms, and will return to work after the furlough.
The fourth union, the New York State Nurses Association, rejected the furlough offer last week. The union and MVHS were not able to negotiate an alternative agreement, and layoffs may be next, according to NYSNA. No layoffs have been made as of Tuesday, April 28.
NYSNA officials say they are still working with MVHS to ensure layoff procedures are followed if and when layoffs need to be made.
The union released a statement on April 26, stating in part: "NYSNA is in continuing conversations with the management of St. Elizabeth Medical Center about what a responsible reduction in the workforce could look like. We believe it is irresponsible to furlough essential hospital personnel during a pandemic, especially as the COVID surge is estimated to peak throughout Upstate New York in late May through early June."
"Now, with the way NYSNA is moving forward, about 80 employees will be at risk of losing their jobs in total," says MVHS President and CEO, Darlene Stromstad. "We have identified a certain number of positions we wanted to put on furlough and those people will now be at risk for bumping and losing their jobs."
According to MVHS, the furlough guidelines are:
- MVHS employees remain employees of the organization and are not terminated. As volumes increase, furloughed employees are expected to be called back to work as they are needed.
- The furlough began in mid-April and will end around Aug. 13, 2020. But, as noted, employees may be called back sooner based on patient demand.
- Employees who are furloughed can apply for unemployment insurance and the enhanced unemployment funds from the federal government.
- Employees will retain the employer contribution to their health insurance coverage.
MVHS says the number of full-time employees furloughed in each department was based on recent and overall volumes in each area.