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Latest News - March 2012

March 5, 2012
Jackson Health, union seek quicker decision on contract
Source: The Miami Herald
By: John Dorschner

Jackson Health System and AFSCME have agreed to ask the Miami-Dade County Commission to decide their labor dispute, bypassing mediation by a magistrate in an effort to resolve the impasse more quickly.

AFSCME represents about half the public hospitals' workers. The two sides have been at an impasse for weeks.

Jackson is calling for a special meeting on Wednesday to ask for board approval to go directly to the commission.

"We're on record as saying we want to do anything to resolve this situation as fast as possible," said Jackson spokesman Edwin O'Dell.

Viviene Dixon-Shim, president of AFSCME Local 1363, which represents mostly the nonprofessionals at Jackson, said she also favored a speeded-up process. She said Jackson executives were threatening more furlough days if delays continued.

"We've been trying to meet with management and negotiate," Dixon-Shim said. "They're not cooperating at all."

Board Chairman Marcos Lapciuc said he was leaning toward supporting the move to "streamline the process."

Last month, Jackson and SEIU Local 1991, representing nurses and other health care professionals, signed a three-year contract that the parties calculated would save the struggling system about $50 million a year.

As part of the deal, executives agreed to end furloughs for SEIU employees starting March 1. Furloughs were imposed in a cost-cutting measure that began last year. But since AFSCME has no new contract, furloughs for its employees continue.

The AFSCME contract dispute comes as Jackson plans to eliminate 1,115 positions to "right-size" the struggling system, which has lost $420 million the past three years.




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