Shortly after Brooklyn pols demanded that Andrew Cuomo help the ailing SUNY Downstate Medical Center, contract talks between the governor’s administration and union reps for hospital profs have proved tense.
The Times-Union reports that the administration is currently negotiating with United University Professions — “one of the last major state public employee unions without a labor agreement.”
UUP reps 33,000 members, most of which work at SUNY — including the embattled medical center. Other unions, we should note, also rep Downstate employees.
Anyway, the concern that has continued during these talks involves layoffs.
As we reported last week, Downstate’s Long Island College Hospital has already axed 150 employees. It’s likely that another 1,000 layoffs will take place in the next year. And non-renewal notices — basically layoff warnings — went out to UUP members last week, the Times-Union notes.
It doesn’t seem like layoffs will be canceled simply if Cuomo and the union reach an agreement, as the hospital is in an outright financial crisis.
Brooklyn pols fear that the center will likely see more such cuts if Cuomo does not provide a loan.
Some key context?
These developments aren’t unique to SUNY Downstate.
They actually fall into line with the sad saga of fiscally sick City hospitals.
As reported in November by the New York Times, private facilities in Brooklyn’s poorest neighborhoods are economically endangered, and their closures would flood the area’s already over-burdened public hospitals with more patients. One of those public hospitals is SUNY Downstate, so problems there could further worsen the situation.
Also, this news comes shortly after Rockaway’s Peninsula Hospital Center shut down, along with the closings St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village, North General Hospital in Harlem, and Mary Immaculate in Queens, the Times points out.
It’s unclear what the UUP and Cuomo will agree upon but, as the Times-Union indicates, “most of the major [public employee] unions have agreed to contracts with higher health care costs and three years without raises in return for layoff protections.”
Again, though, Downstate’s financials seem to significantly complicate this issue.
Check back for updates.
Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.