One-Day Walkout at St Elizabeth and Samaritan Scheduled For September 1
Two-Day Walkout at Nathan Littauer Also Scheduled For September 1
RN Staffing Crisis Cited as a Concern During Negotiations At All Three Hospitals
Albany, NY — Members of the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) at Nathan Littauer Hospital (NLH) in Gloversville, Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown, and St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica announced today that its nurses have overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike on September 1.
A ten-day notice has been officially delivered to management at all three hospitals calling for a one-day walkout at St Elizabeth Medical Center and Samaritan Medical Center, as well as a two-day walkout at Nathan Littauer Hospital.
Nurses at the hospitals have been working day and night without contracts.
One of the main issues is a staffing crisis that exists at all three hospitals. Nurses have raised concerns about inadequate staffing of RNs in numerous departments. Adequate nurse-to-patient staffing improves patient mortality rates and overall quality of care, as well as reduces turnover rates, staffing costs, and liability.
The upcoming September 1 action at NLH comes on the heels of a one-day unfair labor practice strike by nurses on January 6. After the one-day strike, hospital management locked the NYSNA nurses out of the facility for an additional four days, and replaced them with unproven nurses shipped in from across the country.
Registered nurses consistently presented contract proposals to management that would have raised patient care standards and provided a meaningful way to resolve staffing concerns. Management refused to act on those proposals.
After the strike and lock-out, NYSNA filed several unfair labor practice (ULP) charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that ended with a finding of “merit” and issuance of a complaint against the hospital.
NLH has since agreed to pay NYSNA members back wages owed to them after the illegal lock out.
NYSNA has filed additional ULP charges concerning NLH’s ongoing unlawful conduct, including changing nurses’ working conditions without negotiating with NYSNA. NYSNA has also filed charges against St. Elizabeth Medical Center for retaliating against RNs who participated in bargaining and against Samaritan Medical Center for interfering with employee rights under federal labor law.
The impending unfair labor practice strikes at three hospitals would impact three upstate New York counties over Labor Day weekend.
In the last two years, NYSNA has successfully reached contract agreements with more than 60 hospitals representing 26,000 members across the state, but management at Watertown’s Samaritan Medical Center, Utica’s St. Elizabeth Medical Center, and Gloversville’s Nathan Littauer Hospital have resisted NYSNA’s proposals on key issues like safe staffing.
“We are at the bedside around the clock taking care of the most vulnerable members of our community. We deserve respect for the job we do and that starts with a fair contract,” said Marion Enright, NYNSA LBU President, Nathan Littauer Hospital.
Lisa Washburn, RN, Nathan Littauer Hospital said, “We are dedicated to our patients, community, and Nathan Littauer hospital. Our community deserves quality care. Management’s refusal to settle a fair contract is an insult to us all—nurses, patients and their families.”
Renee Blowers, RN, Nathan Littauer Hospital stated, “We are losing skilled nurses without a fair contract and safe staffing levels. As those nurses leave, we do not have experienced nurses replacing them. There just aren't enough nurses to properly care for our patients.”
"I am scheduled to work three 12-hour shifts a week, but I am doing 16-hour shifts almost every shift so my patients can be cared for safely. We need more qualified staff to work in our department so we can provide safe, quality care to our patients,” said Desiree Fuller, RN, Samaritan Medical Center.
"In units such as the maternity unit, it is essential to have proper staffing not only for the new mothers, but also for the newborns. That’s why we insist on having safe staffing in our contract. The patients deserve nothing less,” said Debbie LaMora, RN, NYSNA Chairperson, Samaritan Medical Center.
Jill Schloemer, RN, Samaritan Medical Center said, "I have never seen staffing this bad in the 26 years I have been with Samaritan. I hope this action will help us achieve safer staffing for the patients we serve on a daily basis. If we the RNs don't stand up for our patients' safety, who will?"
"The nurses at Samaritan are fighting for safe staffing because lives depend on it," said Mandy Bray, RN, Samaritan Medical Center.
Susan Shavit, RN, Samaritan Medical Center said, "Staffing conditions have consistently declined with too few RNs to safely take care of our laboring and post partum moms. Our patients come from our military and civilian communities. They are our families, our friends and our co-workers. We need more trained RNs to safely take care of our patients because they deserve it."
“Administration continues to ignore the needs of the patients by refusing to effectively bargain at the table and by refusing to proactively develop a plan to recruit and retain nurses for safe staffing levels. In refusing to do that, hospital administration is disrespecting the community,” said Jessica Culver, RN, St. Elizabeth Hospital.
"We already have, and will continue to lose skilled nurses without a fair contract and safe staffing levels. When they're gone, there is no one to help the newer, younger nurses. Is that what they call 'management'?" said Tosha Elseth, RN, St. Elizabeth Hospital.
The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) represents more than 39,000 members in New York State. We are New York’s largest union and professional association for registered nurses. For more information, please visit our website at www.nysna.org.