NEW YORK NURSE: June 2010
by Randi Hoffman
About 150 registered nurses from Richmond University Medical Center (RUMC) held a candlelight vigil outside the hospital on the evening of May 13 to demand that hospital management keep its promise and deliver the NYSNA pension it formally agreed to in 2008.
Two years ago, the hospital agreed to a negotiated pension plan that it would begin to pay into on April 1, 2010. A few days before this date, the hospital backed out.
“We’re a very diverse group, but we all want the same thing,” said Nancy Sayegh-Rooney, vice president of the bargaining unit. “We voted for and agreed upon the pension. We allowed them to postpone the pension. We come to work and keep the hospital running. We’ve been providing care for a long time, and as we get older, we are going to need care ourselves.”
RUMC was originally part of Saint Vincent’s Catholic Medical Centers network, which declared bankruptcy in 2005. RUMC became its own facility in January of 2007. Until that point, the RUMC RNs were covered under the same pension plan as the other NYSNA St. Vincent’s nurses.
Six hundred NYSNA RNs work at the hospital. In a petition they signed, the nurses explained they agreed to put the pension off for three years and three months, so that the hospital could have a reprieve to pay its bills and remain solvent.
“We are outraged that RUMC has now chosen to blatantly violate our contract by refusing to enter into the NYSNA pension plan,” states the petition.
The hospital had agreed to put money into NYSNA’s pension plan if the required contribution rate per-nurse was less than a designated threshold. If the contribution exceeded that amount, RUMC had the option to put the money in a 401(k) retirement account.
However, even though the contributions were determined to be below this threshold, the hospital has refused to pay into the NYSNA plan. Rather, it told the RNs, it would place the money into an escrow account and discuss 401(k) plans while the NYSNA pension plan is being evaluated.