NEW YORK NURSE: April 2008
by Mark Genovese
A well-attended, energetic informational picket provided NYSNA members at Mount Sinai with just the push they needed to win a new contract.
On a windy Feb. 21, more than 400 RNs from the Upper East Side facility took part in a loud, two-hour protest against contract givebacks and delays in negotiations. The success of this picket, and nurses’ plans for a follow-up picket during a Joint Commission inspection, pushed management to back down.
Besides increasing base salaries 3% each year, the new three-year contract, ratified on March 20, substantially increases experience differentials and the cap on the experience scale. In addition, the amount paid for experience outside of Mount Sinai will also increase, as will differentials for certification, education, teaching, working off-shifts, and working in-charge. These provisions will help the hospital with recruitment and retention.
RN-to-patient staffing guidelines will be posted on each unit so that nurses will be aware of the number of patients for which they can safely care. Managers will be held in closer accountability for their responses or lack of response when RNs protest an assignment due to safety concerns. A labor/management interdisciplinary taskforce on safe patient handling will be established within 60 days of ratification.
The RNs will continue to receive health and pension coverage through the NYSNA Pension and Benefits fund. The annual stipend to pay for post-retirement health insurance will increase as well.
The nurses can keep their current sick, vacation, and personal time structure, but have the option of taking part in a paid time off (PTO) program starting in January 2009. RNs who do not participate in the PTO program can receive up to $750 if they use little or no sick leave. RNs who choose to trial the PTO option would have a one-time opportunity to change their minds before Dec. 31, 2010.
“This contract helps to set the standard for ensuring quality working conditions by improving staffing and conditions for patient safety,” said Lucille Sollazzo, NYSNA nursing representative. “Mount Sinai RNs maintained all along that these contract talks were about safety, staffing, and respect.”