NEW YORK NURSE: November 2010
by Mark Genovese
Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 1, 2010, RNs at Ellis Hospital filed more than 250 protest of assignment forms, 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, management of the Schenectady facility still refuses to include core staffing numbers in the nurses’ contract and 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, more than 400 Ellis 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 most recent, four-year contract for the 670 RNs 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 those standards.
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 may be in jeopardy when they report to work. More than 200 RNs took part in the first informational picket on July 7.