Pat Rocchi, spokesman for Children's Hospital, expressed surprise that the union was talking strike more than three weeks before the contract expiration. ''Our contract requires 10 days' notice of intent to strike," Rocchi said, ''and we haven't gotten an official notice."
Henry Nicholas, president of District 1199C, explained that the union has been trying to convince the health care institutions to sign new contracts well in advance of June 30 because that's also the date that the city union contracts expire.
"It's just common sense to try to avoid the possibility of having a hospital strike when there is a possibility that city workers will be on strike," he said. Negotiations with the institutions began last summer.
Nicholas said the union has settlements already with 11 institutions: Wills Eye, Mt. Sinai, Episcopal, Hahnemann and Jefferson Hospitals, Inglis House, Philadelphia Geriatric Center, Greenwich Services, St. Ignatius Nursing Home, Kenccid and Community Legal Services.
Each has agreed to a 22 1/2-percent increase in wages and benefits over a three-year period, Nicholas said. Salary will increase by 5 percent in each year of the contract. The institutions also will increase their contribution to the Training and Upgrading Fund, which provides education for union members to 1 1/2 percent of gross payroll from the current 1 percent. The employer contribution to the union Health and Welfare fund will increase from 13.5 percent to 20 percent, he said.
Rocchi said the sticking point for negotiators at Children's is a union proposal for allocating employer contributions between the pension fund and the health and welfare funds.
Rocchi said the union wants greater allocation to health and welfare, less to the pension fund. But the hospital is concerned that the proposal would undermine the long-term viability of the benefits, he said.