Union to Leaflet Katzenberg’s Pre-Oscar MPTF Fundraiser
Arriving guests at the Jeffrey Katzenberg-sponsored annual fundraiser for the Motion Picture and Television Fund on Saturday at the Beverly Hilton will be leafleted by MPTF caregivers and other unionized employees as part of an ongoing labor dispute, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. The dispute concerns staffing levels, wage rates, proposed new health insurance premiums and a proposed freeze of employees’ existing pension plan.
The employees, represented by the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, picketed the fund’s Woodland Hills care facility and hospital Thursday, as well as most of its clinics. The action Saturday at the Beverly Hilton is bound to amp up the already bitter tone of the dispute.
A union spokesperson anticipated between 20 and 40 leafletters will be outside the event, beginning at 6:00 p.m. THR has reached out to a management spokesperson and will update the story with any comment received. (THR is a media sponsor of the event.)
“Management is not bargaining in good faith,” said MPTF employee Milton Morataya on Thursday. “We just want to keep what we have [and] we are not budging.”
“MPTF deals fairly and equitably with its labor force,” hospital CEO Bob Beitcher responded in a statement, “[and] continues to believe that the best place to negotiate with SEIU is around a table and not on the street or in the press.”
Beitcher expressed confidence that industry members would “be able to see through the [union’s] rhetoric.”
Employee Sadia Ramos alleged that management’s negotiating stance was in retaliation for the employees having supported residents of the facility in a fight several years ago to keep the facility open. The intended closure, announced in 2009, was ultimately reversed two years later.
“Now we’re being punished,” Ramos said.
A key focus of the dispute is staffing levels. Morataya said that during the day these range from 1:7 (one caregiver for every seven hospital residents) to 1:10, but that at night ratios range from 1:13 to 1:20. Employee Isela Bautista asserted that these staffing ratios have led to more falls by residents and longer response time when residents buzz for nursing attention.
The union spokesperson said that the union continues to work under the current, expired contract, including honoring the agreement’s no-strike clause. However, he says that state of affairs is only assured through the second of two scheduled bargaining dates, March 13. (The other date is March 7.)
After that, a strike could be called at any time. Members of the 500-person bargaining unit voted Jan. 30 to authorize union leaders to call a strike at their discretion.
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