Some 50 members of Local 4950-11 in Ishpeming, Mich., this month ratified a new contract, increasing wages and maintaining benefits.
The negotiations with Bell Physician Practices were difficult, said Local President Chad Korpi, and ultimately required the presence of a federal mediator.
“The company brought in a lawyer,” said Korpi, “and they proposed concessions or status quo on everything. It’s a clinic attached to a hospital, so the way they do their books, of course they claimed to be losing money.”
The membership, composed of LPNs and staff handling billing, medical records, reception and more, stayed strong and united and finally ended up with wage increases in each of the five years of the deal.
They were also able to secure increases to pension contributions and stronger language for new-hire orientations, as well as maintaining a buyout option for members who don’t elect to use the company health insurance – one of the big concessions the company wanted.
“It was contentious, but the day we brought in the mediator were able to bargain the entire day, and finally got a tentative agreement,” said Korpi.