NEW YORK NURSE: January 2008
by Mark Genovese
NYSNA and other state nurses associations continued to support striking nurses in Kentucky and West Virginia during the holidays.
The 800 registered nurses had been on strike against the Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) system since Sept. 30 over concerns about poor staffing and mandatory overtime. ARH hired “scab” nurses to prolong the strike and a union-busting firm to break the union.
NYSNA has “adopted” the strike sites in Harlan, Kentucky and Hinton, West Virginia. NYSNA staff and members visited the nine strike sites to offer their guidance.
The stories they heard while there were heartbreaking:
Even though the strike recently ended, NYSNA is continuing its “Tree of Hope” program. NYSNA is asking members to continue sending financial donations to the strikers. You can also send material donations. Suggestions for items needed include: gift cards for gasoline or groceries, warm clothes for picket lines, and clothes for kids of all ages. Send packages to the Kentucky Nurses Association, 1400 South First Street, P.O. Box 2616, Louisville, KY 40201.
One NYSNA bargaining unit has already answered the call. Twenty-five PACU RNs at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady collected $600 for the strikers. They also sent the bull horn they used during their own 9-month struggle for a fair contract in 2006, signed by them all.
NYSNA staff adopted the striking ARH nurses as its holiday charity this year. UNITE-HERE and NYSNA staff members donated more than $4,500. This was converted to $25 Visa cards and distributed to the striking nurses the week before Christmas, while $100 gift cards were sent to the seven nurses whose stories appear on the NYSNA “Tree of Hope.” It was NYSNA’s way of showing its ongoing commitment to the nurses on the strike line and its wish to bring some happiness to our colleagues during the holidays.
NYSNA encourages members to distribute flyers about the program to LBU members and discuss it at their LBU meetings. For information on the “Tree of Hope,” see NYSNA’s website at www.nysna.org/news/kentucky_rns.htm.