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NEGOTIATIONS OVER LOSS OF HOSPITAL JOBS AT IMPASSE FOURTEEN HENRY MAYO NEWHALL WORKERS FACE LAYOFFS.

Byline: Heather MacDonald Staff Writer

VALENCIA - Negotiations between Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital and union officials over a plan to eliminate 22 jobs are at an impasse, union officials said Tuesday.

The two sides have met twice, and the third round of talks is scheduled for Monday evening, said Leah Fried, spokeswoman for the United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers of America, Local 1004.

``There has been a thorough discussion of the issues, but no progress,'' Fried said.

Newhall Memorial spokeswoman Janice Newbold declined to discuss the negotiations, saying only that the hospital hopes to reach a solution soon.

Hospital administrators notified the union three weeks ago that 22 positions would be eliminated and 14 employees laid off as part of a work force restructuring plan designed to improve the hospital's bottom line.

``We're all just really hurt at what the hospital is doing to us,'' said Yvonne Albee, whose transfer coordinator position is slated to be eliminated. ``It's so inappropriate, and shows such a lack of compassion.''

Newhall Memorial has been suffering financially for several years, after expensive repairs to fix damage from the 1994 Northridge Earthquake and high supply costs pushed the hospital to consider merging with a larger hospital chain. Last week, Newhall Memorial Chief Executive Officer James T. Yoshioka announced that the hospital was no longer interested in a merger, and would try to improve its finances through in-house cost cutting measures.

The biggest area of contention surrounds the laid-off employees' medical insurance, which the hospital wants to terminate one day after the employees' last day of work. The union is asking that the insurance be continued until the employees find new jobs.

``We know how important insurance is, being hospital workers,'' Albee said. ``Not having insurance can literally destroy your life.''

Union officials have also asked the hospital to lay off employees with the least amount of seniority first, a move the hospital has resisted, Fried said. Two of the employees slated to lose their jobs have worked at the hospital for 20 and 25 years each.

As part of Newhall Memorial's work force restructuring plan, three new positions would be created. The union is asking the hospital to move laid-off employees into those positions at the same salary and benefit level, but the hospital has marked those positions as lower-paid jobs, Fried said.

Union officials are also negotiating severance packages for the employees, and said they are concentrating on allowing employees to cash out their unused sick time and vacation hours.

Albee said employee morale at Newhall Memorial is suffering as a result of the protracted negotiations.

``Its a slap in the face to everyone who is going to stay,'' Albee said. ``People are scared, and no one understands what is going on.''
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 12, 2000
Words:459
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