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August 18, 2004

Workers at Helen Keller Center vote to strike

From: Newsday, NY - Aug 18, 2004


August 18, 2004

Health care workers of the Helen Keller National Center in Sands Point affiliated with Service Employees International Union 1199 have voted to strike, pending the outcome of ongoing contract negotiations, union representatives said.

"A strike vote was taken last week that would affect 90 employees," said Chris Fleming, a spokesman for SEIU 1199, who confirmed the negotiations but declined to comment on details of the vote.

SEIU 1199 represents more than 237,000 health care employees in New York. If union members follow through with a strike, they are required by the Department of Health to provide written notification to the center 10 days in advance.

John Walters, director of human resources for the Helen Keller National Center, confirmed the facility is negotiating with the union but declined further comment.

Joe McNulty, the center's executive director, said, "I wouldn't say anything that would disrupt negotiations."

McNulty said the institution employs about 150, including part-time staff. Currently, the center, which services youth and adults who are deaf-blind and teaches them to lead productive and independent lives, has 35 permanent students.

The Helen Keller National Center, established in the late 1960s, operates a residential and training facility in Sands Point, which is visited by people with dual sensory impairments from all over the country. It also provides support services throughout the country.

Its program, which includes independent living and creative arts, functions through federal funds, although students are charged about $700 a week for tuition, and room and board.

Copyright © 2004, Newsday, Inc.