Guests at Jeffrey Katzenberg’s 11th Annual ‘Night Before’ Oscars Fundraiser benefiting the Motion Picture and Television Fund tomorrow won’t have to worry about crossing a union picket line after all. But that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to ignore the contract talks battle between the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West and the MPTF. I’ve learned that the union plans to have members on the scene outside the Beverly Hills Hotel on Saturday as guests arrive. “It won’t be a formal picket line but more an informative leafleting,” says a source close to the situation. At around 6 PM, approximately 25 to 30 SEIU members who work at the MPTF’s Wasserman Campus hospital in Woodland Hills will start handing out flyers to arriving guests. The flyers will thank them for their support of the MPTF and urge them to ask the organization to “bargain in good faith.” The SEIU hopes that this approach will show MPTF supporters that its concerns and contract desires are for the best of patient care at the hospital. The union says the main issues on the table are staffing ratios at the hospital as well as a doubling of healthcare premiums for its members; wages; and frozen retirement contributions. MPTF CEO Bob Beitcher told employees last month that staffing levels were not part of bargaining talks.
After last week’s bargaining session over a new three-contract with MPTF management and a federal mediator stalemated, the SEIU said it would demonstrate outside the organization’s facilities on February 21. The SEIU was also “seriously considering” picketing the annual charity event on February 23. The union has about 500 members at the Woodland Hills hospital and has been bargaining for a new contract since August 2012. Two and a half weeks ago they overwhelming voted to authorized the union to strike. Protests occurred Thursday at the MPTF’s hospital and four other facilities. The next scheduled bargaining sessions between the two sides are set for March 7 and March 13. Sources tell me if those sessions do not result in some serious movement towards an agreement, the SEIU is prepared to “escalate the situation appropriately.”