Updated 12/16/2010 06:51 PM
Harlem Hospital Doctors Decide Not To Strike
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Doctors at Harlem Hospital have decided not to strike over a new contract that would eliminate some of their benefits.
At a closed-door meeting Thursday afternoon, the doctors were briefed on the Health and Hospital Corporation's best offer, which they accepted.
Doctors had threatened to walk off the job over HHC's decision to limit its relationship with Columbia University to save money. That relationship allowed doctors to receive free college tuition for their children.
Doctors would also no longer be eligible for valuable Columbia University pensions.
While few details of the contract have been released, the president of the doctors' council says fears of a strike can be put on hold.
"Doctors have agreed to a contract on principle, pending some minor issues and pending language," said SEIU Doctors' Council President Dr. Barry Leibowitz. "We will go toward a full ratification once we have the language done. The strike has been staved. So there is no strike at this present time, pending the review of the written language."
Under the proposed deal, the loss of tuition benefit will be spread out over four years, although doctors will take a significant hit on pensions.
"We hope to make up the loss through our family practice plan here," Leibowitz said. "We have negotiated that as the family practice does make money that will go to the people most impacted by the pension reform."
In a statement, HHC tells NY1:
"We appreciate that the union and its membership have recognized the economic realities that challenge HHC and the city and have accepted a fair and comparable package that includes a modest salary increase that will be funded by a somewhat diminished pension contribution."
"The benefits that are being offered in the new contract are comparable to the benefits that other HHC doctors have. The benefits that these doctors are given at Columbia is comparable except for a couple of categories of benefits," said Harlem Hospital Executive Director John Palmer.
The union says it will work over the weekend to get everything finalized and hopes to have all parties sign the new contract by next Thursday.