For Immediate Release
Contact: Mark Genovese, 518.782.9400, ext 353
SCHENECTADY, Oct. 19, 2010 – If Ellis Hospital management claims it’s constantly monitoring nurse staffing, why are registered nurses protesting their assignments?
Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 1, 2010, Ellis RNs filed more than 250 protests, stating that they believed – in their professional judgment – that the RN-to-patient ratio on their units was unsafe. This is an average of more than one per day.
Yet, Ellis Hospital management refuses to include core staffing numbers in the nurses’ contract and has notified the nurses that it will not make any additional movement in negotiations. In addition, it plans to unilaterally impose some of the terms of its own proposal starting in January 2011.
So, on the evening of Oct. 18, Ellis RNs conducted a public protest to discuss hospital management’s irresponsibility. More than 400 nurses and supporters marched outside of the hospital, waving flashlights and rallying. Ellis nurses were joined by representatives from other local labor unions, including the Teachers, Steelworkers, Plumbers, Painters, Ironworkers, and Communication Workers/IUE. U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko also greeted the marchers.
The 670 RNs are represented by the New York State Nurses Association. Their most recent, four-year contract was to have expired on Feb 28, 2010, but was extended to June 21. The hospital has refused to extend the contract since then.
The nurses would be satisfied if Ellis management agreed to include in the contract the core staffing guidelines that the hospital itself established in 2009, because the nurses on the units know that management isn’t currently adhering to these standards.
Including staffing guidelines in a contract would provide the nurses with a means of legal recourse should the hospital fail to meet the guidelines. Enforceable staffing guidelines are also an important factor in establishing a workplace environment that encourages RN recruitment and retention. Yet management refuses.
The nurses want to make sure Ellis continues to attract and keep the best RNs in the area. But to do this, Ellis management must treat its nurses with respect and respond to their concerns about their ability to provide safe patient care and their concerns that their nursing licenses are in jeopardy every time they report to work.
The nurses will be joined on the picket line by their colleagues from other area labor unions. More than 200 RNs took part in their first informational picket on July 7.
The New York State Nurses Association is the voice for nursing in the Empire State. With more than 36,000 members, it is the state's largest professional association and union for registered nurses. It supports nurses and nursing practice through education, research, legislative advocacy, and collective bargaining.
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