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Technical workers to join union at Cooley Dickinson Hospital

  • Cooley Dickinson Hospital. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Cooley Dickinson Hospital GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS



@kate_ashworth
Friday, August 11, 2017

NORTHAMPTON — By a margin of one vote, some 100 technical workers employed at Cooley Dickinson Hospital will join a labor union along with 300 service workers.

Through a secret ballot election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board in May, service and technical workers voted on whether to join the 1199 Service Employees International Union United Healthcare Workers East.

For technical workers, it was a tight vote. The hospital and labor union went through a legal process to determine if the job titles of contested voters fell in the technical workers category, which includes medical lab technicians, cardiovascular technicians and respiratory therapists.

The NLRB held a hearing Friday and counted the contested votes, determining the 41-40 vote in favor of unionizing.

For the workers, this means they will now be represented by 1199SEIU in terms of pay, benefits and other working conditions. Cooley Dickinson and the labor union will now begin contract negotiations.

The vote of the service workers, including administrative and food service workers and phlebotomists, in favor of the union was certified in July.

“We’re proud that technical workers at Cooley Dickinson Hospital joined together and now have the opportunity to utilize their collective voice to advocate for quality care and quality jobs to benefit patients and communities throughout the region,” Tyrék D. Lee Sr., executive vice president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, said in a statement.

For cardiovascular interventional technologist Suzanne Sauer, who has been with the hospital for a decade, joining the labor union is “important to help technical employees like me respond to changes in the healthcare industry and advocate to protect our professional standards,” according to the statement.

Hospital spokeswoman Julia Sorensen said patients in the community should not expect to see any difference as a result of the vote.

Cooley Dickinson President and Chief Executive Officer Joanne Marqusee said in a statement, “It has been CDH’s position from the beginning that we respect the right of employees to make free and fully informed decisions on the question of unionization through the process of a secret ballot election.”

Cooley Dickinson employs about 1,800. Around 300 nurses are represented by the Massachusetts Nurses’ Association. Doctors at the hospital are not unionized.

Caitlin Ashworth can be reached at cashworth@gazettenet.com.