Grievance Victories for Local 768 Members at NYC H+H

Woodhull Dental Assistants in Local 768 stood up to management and with help from their union stopped out-of-title work assignments.

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS

The union settled three separate grievances in favor of Local 768 members employed at New York City Health +Hospitals facilities, in an ongoing fight to protect unionized hospital workers from managers who would violate the contract.

Kings County Hospital failed to pay Social Worker Level 2 Adam Turkel for the overtime hours he was assigned to work so Hospitals and Healthcare Professionals Division Council Rep Joel Viera-Vera filed a grievance for the Local 768 member.

The case went to Step 2 when H+H finally agreed to compensate Mr. Turkel for two hours of overtime.

“These members are relied on to make up for staff shortages,” said Local 768 President Fitz Reid. “So while it may seem small, on principle we stood up for Mr. Turkel and in doing so protected the right of every member to be fairly compensation for any overtime hours worked.”

Woodhull Hospital wrongfully penalized Dental Assistant Stacey Opoku two days’ pay after her cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) license expired. The hospital allowed Opoku to work while she corrected the problem, but when she saw her paycheck, H+H docked her for the two days her license was not in force.

Viera-Vera filed a grievance that was settled at Step 2 in June. He said, “The union succeeded in having H+H make the member whole.”

In January Woodhull Hospital managers assigned 15 Dental Assistants in Local 768 to transport biohazard materials on a 300-pound steel cart, which is not in their job description.

Mayolyn Andall-Metivier, a Dental Assistant for over 30 years at H+H, was hospitalized for five days after she injured herself while moving a cartload of soiled surgical and dentistry instruments.

“The cart was just too heavy,” she said. “We never had to do this before. First we went to management but our complaints were not heard until the union intervened.”

Viera-Vera filed an out-of-title group grievance for the Local 768 members. When Woodhull failed to answer the grievance, it went to Step 2.

“According to longstanding hospital policy, the task of handling biohazards and moving equipment is assigned to Central Sterile staff, not Dental Assistants,” noted Reid. “The union contract makes management respect the work each employee does.”

Andall-Metivier’s injury required surgery. Her testimony before the Office of Labor Relations helped win a cease-and-desist order that made Woodhull stop assigning Dental Assistants out-of-title duties.

“Although there was no monetary compensation to members in this case,” Reid said, “this a good example of members coming together and standing up for themselves. The goal was to stop out-of-title work assignments and they achieved that.”

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