Orlando Health workers move closer to unionizing as pay cuts loom

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ORLANDO, Fla. - Plans to form a union at one of Orlando's largest employers are getting closer to reality.

Dozens of Orlando Health employees met with their employer's human resources Tuesday morning, petitioning to stop cuts to differential shift pay and informing administrators of plans to unionize.

Dozens of Orlando Health nurses behind the push tried to track down hospital CEO Sherrie Sitarik, but she wasn't around.

The group had asked to meet with Sitarik last week by email about looming pay changes and a new plan to form a union.

The group presented a petition to a human resources representative with more than 5,000 signatures opposing changes to differential shift pay, which currently pays employees more during undesirable shifts.

"I would say it's (disappointing). They like to practice on an open-door policy and clearly the door was not open today," said nurse Sarah Collins.

The pay changes were announced at the beginning of August and will go into effect next month in an effort to save the hospital more than $18 million and to avoid cutting positions.

Nurses Sarah Lasher and Collins are leading the effort to unionize to bargain against future cuts.

"I don't believe it'll change the current cuts, but that was the point of the petition," Lasher said.

In a statement, Orlando Health told Eyewitness News the move to change shift pay is critical to the system's overall financial health to preserve jobs.

Going on to say the hospital system doesn't believe unionization supports efforts to provide quality, affordable care to patients.