Caregivers Picketing at MPTF on Thursday; Possible Strike Planned

Union and MPTF differ in opinions about "progress" of talks

Last Updated: February 18, 2013 @ 11:35 AM

Caregivers at the Motion Picture and Television Fund's long-term care center and hospital will picket on Thursday over staffing levels and proposed benefits and salary cuts.

There is also a possibility that nurse aides, licensed vocational nurses, medical records workers and other support staff at the facility will go on a three-day strike if the nonprofit's administration continues to reject contract proposals from the Service Employees International Union, United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW).

Also read: MPTF CEO Hits Back at Unsafe Staffing-Level Claims After Caregivers OK Strike Authorization

The SEIU-UHW is representing roughly 500 employees in talks for a new three-year contract, but is frustrated because the MPTF will not commit to bolstering staffing levels. It is also upset that the MPTF wants to raise healthcare premiums and institute a freeze in retirement contributions. 

The picket will take place at the MPTF's Wasserman Campus in Woodland Hills, Calif.

Despite the threats of a possible work stoppage, MPTF Chief Executive Bob Beitcher said he was "encouraged" by the past week's bargaining session with SEIU representatives.

"Progress was made in resolving a long list of open contract points and both parties were actively engaged in narrowing the discussions to a few key issues," Beitcher said in a statement to TheWrap.

He added that he hoped that the next bargaining session on March 7 would move the two sides closer to an agreement.

However, Eric Kizziee, area coordinator for the union, rejected Beitcher's claims that talks were moving in a positive direction.

"Bob's claims about 'progress' are an absolute, outright lie," he told TheWrap. "There was no movement, and they rejected every single of our proposals." 

In particular, Kizziee said the MPTF management struck down the union's proposal that caregivers forgo a raise in the first year of the contract, but get a 3 percent bump in each of the other two years.

He said that the hospital and long-term care facility also refused to agree to fix staffing ratios at one caregiver to every eight patients. The MPTF has countered that it actually maintains better staffing ratios of one caregiver to every seven patients.

"It's not about money," Kizziee said. "It is more about providing safe care for the patients."