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Public Employee Press: PEP Talk

Union scores win over arbitrary scheduling at Kings County Hospital


Two SSEU Local 371 members working at Kings County Hospital won a grievance against H+H due to arbitrary overtime without input from union representatives.

An impartial arbitrator ruled that Kings County Hospital violated the collective bargaining agreement by forcing Social Services Community Associates to work on a rotating Saturday schedule without overtime pay.

The members, Eric Andrade and Benjamin Kulugh, work in the Behavioral Health Department in the Methadone Maintenance Program at Kings County Hospital.

From late July 2019 until February 2020, the members were suddenly required to work on Saturdays once every four weeks on a rotational schedule to keep the clinic open on that day. Before this change, they worked a Monday through Friday schedule.

Under the union contract, the standard work week is five consecutive days, separated by two straight days off. Therefore, the employer cannot change the work schedule without negotiating with the union before implementing flexible or alternative work schedules.

Kings County Hospital additionally violated the contract by failing to assign work to an employee with the least seniority. Instead, the scheduling was done without regard to time served and without explanation by the hospital.

“This ruling was a big win for us,” said Grievance Rep Alexander Elias, who worked with the members through the process until the arbitration ruling. “These hospitals think they can take it upon themselves to arbitrarily change our members’ schedule, whether it is done individually or to a group, based on the facility’s needs.”

Since management at Kings County Hospital violated the contract by assigning without consideration of seniority, Andrade and Kulugh were awarded an undisclosed amount in compensation.

“You cannot disrupt our workers’ lives without discussing it first with the union,” said SSEU Local 371 President Anthony Wells. “This victory is significant in serving notice to management that you have to abide by procedures set forth by our contract.”