Schenectady County

Conifer Park workers authorize strike

A union representing about 350 workers at Conifer Park has voted to authorize a strike if a new cont
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A union representing about 350 workers at Conifer Park has voted to authorize a strike if a new contract is not reached by midnight tonight.

Communications Workers of America Local 1101 represents housekeepers, cooks, nurses, dietary workers, substance abuse counselors and social workers at the substance abuse treatment facility.

Gladys Finnigan, staff representative for district CWA, said the union and Conifer Park owner Liberty Behavioral Health Management are far apart in terms of pay and benefits.

“In today’s economy, we’re looking for wages that will help people stay afloat, and what the employer is offering right now is less than we’ve seen in years,” she said.

Finnigan declined to discuss specifics, only saying it is a low percentage.

Liberty Behavioral Health Management is also looking to change its contributions to employee health premiums, according to Finnigan. Right now, the employer pays a larger share of the premium based upon the employee’s years of service. The company is looking to freeze those benefits.

Talks have been continuing since early May.

If no agreement is reached, Finnigan said workers will not actually walk off the job Tuesday. The union is legally required to give a 10-day notice. Without an agreement, the union may give that notice or request an extension of contract talks.

Neither a representative from Conifer nor Liberty Behavioral Health Management was immediately available for comment.

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