There have been rumors circulating that we will be voting on a contract as soon as tomorrow. Please be aware that those are just rumors. As soon as we have a Tentative Agreement with Catholic Health, we will let you know logistics for meeting with the membership to go over the TA, and for voting on it.
Our Bargaining Team was at the table almost around the clock throughout the weekend because we are very close to reaching an agreement and wanted to make sure that we didn’t lose any momentum.
We are down to one item left on the table, but it’s a big one - staffing - so we are not in agreement yet. We have made it clear to Catholic Health that we will not go backwards on staffing. Catholic Health’s proposal would create ratios in some units that are worse than the current management-created staffing grids. Our members and patients need 1:4 staffing ratios on our medical surgical units that will allow frontline workers to provide patients with the care they need.
Those of us on the picket lines will be focusing on strong picket lines this week, as well as continuing the other modes of pressure that we ramped up last week to make it clear to CHS that we are holding strong and not backing down!
Health Insurance for the Duration of the Strike
Catholic Health has announced that they are cutting off our health insurance.
But don’t worry! As a reminder, the CWA Member Relief Fund - which has over $400 million in it - covers our necessary healthcare during the strike as well as strike pay checks. CWA has pledged that no striking member or family member will go without medically necessary health care during the strike. CWA will pay for all necessary medical/hospital expenses.
The term “necessary” does not include any treatment not normally covered under the Catholic Health Medical Plan, nor does it cover any elective procedures or dental work that can be postponed until after the strike. PLEASE CANCEL AND PLAN TO RESCHEDULE ANY ROUTINE DOCTOR VISITS AND DENTAL CLEANING/EXAMS THAT ARE SCHEDULED AFTER NOVEMBER 1, 2021. If you are unsure whether a procedure or visit counts as “routine” or “necessary,” please come to the union hall to speak with the Member Relief Fund Committee.
Going forward, here’s what you need to know:
Ask doctors offices to bill you. If they will not give you a bill, ask them to bill your insurance, and then when you get a bill later, bring that bill to the union hall.
If you have an ongoing medical condition, e.g. kidney problems, high cost prescriptions, pregnancy or cancer, come to the hall to discuss, confidentially, whether the Members’ Relief Fund will cover COBRA for you to maintain necessary treatment. In general, members who do have ongoing conditions will be able to get COBRA to continue receiving necessary treatment. Members should request a “CWA Request for COBRA Payment” form. Make sure that when you fill out the form you include any supporting medical documentation.There is a60 day election period for COBRA. If you or a family member becomes seriously orchronically ill during the 60 day election period, you should speak to someone from the Member Relief Fund Committee at the local.
For other non-routine issues that come up, keep your bills and submit them to the union. The union will determine at this point if you would qualify for COBRA or if unavoidable bills will be paid on an individual basis. CWA members would not accrue debts for anything medically necessary.
Emergency dental care will be covered by the Members’ Relief Fund as well.
Pharmacies will not bill you. If you are able to pay for your prescription upfront please bring your receipt to the local for reimbursement. Check with GoodRX for cheaper prescription prices. If you are unable to pay upfront please contact someone from the Member Relief Fund Committee and they will contact the pharmacy to coordinate payment.
Any kind of routine treatment (for example, an annual physical) that can be postponed until after the strike should be postponed. If you’re unsure whether something counts as “necessary” or “routine,” please call or come to the union hall to speak with the MRF Committee. Your best source for discussing any concerns and getting answers to questions is the union hall - not Facebook.
If you have any questions or concerns, please call (828-1133) or come to the union hall (821 Elk St) Monday through Friday 8am-4pm and ask to speak with the Members’ Relief FundCommittee.
PTO and Unemployment Insurance
We’ve had several members ask about payments for PTO from the hospital and how that could impact their Unemployment Insurance. Here is the advice we’ve received from the Department of Labor.
We recommend calling your CHS timekeeper to cancel any future PTO.
If you’ve received vacation pay already since the strike began - you should claim it where requested and it will be taken out of your UI check for that week.
You can use this partial UI calculator to see how claiming vacation pay impacts your UI benefits. This is also a good resource for members with part-time jobs during the strike.
If you have additional questions not answered on the page above, or if you’re having trouble with Unemployment, please call the union hall (828-1133) or come to the union hall (821 Elk St) Monday-Friday, 8am-4pm to speak with someone on the Unemployment Team.
Receiving Money from the Solidarity Fund
In order to process bills through the Solidarity Fund*, we need:
Form filled out
Copy of the bill that needs to be paid
Unemployment letter stating benefit amount you will be receiving
*As a reminder, the Solidarity Fund is separate from the CWA Member Relief Fund. The Member Relief Fund funds our strike pay checks we’re receiving each week as well as healthcare coverage for necessary treatment should CHS cut off our health insurance. The Solidarity Fund is set up through outside donations and can be used for members who have emergency bills or payments they need assistance with.
Coming Up This Week
Picket Line Tailgating: Chili Night!
We had so much fun at last week’s Picket Line Tailgate (and showed Catholic Health what tailgating really is) that we decided to do it again!
Join us this evening (11/1) at 6:30pm for Picket Line Tailgating at Mercy - we’ll be at the Loading Dock picket line with some good music and tonight we’ll be serving up some chili!