New York, NY – “They went in and cleaned house.”
That’s how the head of the union representing parking attendants around the Metropolitan Area described Northwell Health’s recent move to terminate numerous employees holding union cards.
Northwell Health bills itself as the largest healthcare provider and private employer in New York State with some 66,000 workers at nearly 650 outpatients facilities and 23 hospitals across its expansive network.
Two weeks ago, however, after deciding to ignore preexisting bargaining agreements and, instead, putting out bids for non-union contractors to run its parking services — eight valet parking attendants at the Staten Island University Hospital on Seaview Avenue were told that they would be fired come August 3. That was followed a few days later, when seven more union workers at Parker Jewish Center on Long Island, learned they, too, were being canned.
“Northwell decided on their own that they didn’t want to deal with unions anymore and they bid everything out non-union,” IBT Local 272 Business Manager Matthew Bruccoleri told LaborPress this week. “We tried to sit down and talk to them…unfortunately, the new company that went in told everybody, ‘Don’t come back to work.’”
Valet parking attendant Vincent Sicurella is among the Staten Island group of union workers facing termination on Friday. According to Sicurella, he and a supervisor were approached on the morning of July 19, by a man identifying himself as VP of the company taking over parking services on Seaview Avenue, and told the awful news.
“He asked us multiple questions about how the site is run,” the Local 272 member later recalled. “After a brief conversation, I then asked him if he would be keeping us on as employees — to which, he replied, ‘No.’ He said that his reason for not rehiring us was that he would not employ any union workers and that he would be replacing us with non-union employees.”
IBT Local 272 has successfully represented valet parking attendants attached to the aforementioned Northwell sites for over a decade.
A spokesperson for Staten University Hospital issued this terse statement to LaborPress late Tuesday night:
“After numerous customer complaints regarding ABM Parking Services and our expected level of satisfaction, Staten Island University Hospital has signed with a new parking vendor that better aligns with our patient and customer experience expectations and core values,” the email said.
Staten Island University Hospital narrowly averted a planned nurses strike set for July 8, after reaching a tentative agreement with the New York State Nurses Association last month.
Bruccoleri says unceremoniously axing union workers is no way to treat a community of union people.
“[The hospital] went out and busted our union,” Bruccoleri said. “They knew exactly what they were doing. I have members who have lost their pensions. I’ve got members that have welfare benefits that covered their wives and children — they don’t have anything now. They kicked them to the curb. I’m very shocked at the way they did this.”