NEW YORK NURSE: October 2010
by Mark Genovese
Registered nurses at Kingston Hospital aren’t different from any other nurses. They care about their patients. They have concerns about safe and adequate staffing. But the hospital’s corporate parent, the Health Alliance of the Hudson Valley, apparently doesn’t believe in treating them the same as RNs from their sister facility, Benedictine Hospital.
This past year, the Health Alliance has been consolidating units and staff from the two hospitals, which are both in Kingston. But it hasn’t made the same effort to consolidate pay structures, benefits, and employee policies. Benedictine and Kingston RNs continue to have different policies regarding health insurance benefits and pension contributions.
Benedictine nurses, who organized with NYSNA in 2008, have been working to resolve these inconsistencies through contract negotiations. Now Kingston nurses, who are concerned about reorganization and staffing resulting from the consolidation, are saying it’s their turn.
In August, they filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to also be represented by NYSNA.
“Kingston nurses believe it’s time for them to join together and demand a role in the decision making process,” said NYSNA Organizer Lisa Ruiz. “They believe they deserve fair and equal treatment, and are prepared to stand up for their right to organize together with NYSNA.”
The RNs are preparing for a secret-ballot election at a time, date, and location to be determined by the NLRB. An election would have been scheduled for the beginning of October, had the Health Alliance agreed to a speedy and fair election. Unfortunately, the Health Alliance proved once again that it doesn’t listen to its RNs.
Health Alliance management immediately challenged the status of permanent and relief charge RNs and care managers – contending they are supervisors and not eligible to vote in the union election. NYSNA fought for the nurses’ rights during six days of NLRB hearings in Albany. As this edition went to press, the RNs were waiting for a decision from the NLRB.