NEW YORK NURSE: October 2010
by Randi Hoffman
After years of grievances, the nurse practitioners who work for Prison Health Services on Riker’s Island have won thousands of dollars each for wrongfully docked pay.
In 2002, the nurse practitioners who work for Prison Health Services were employed on a salaried basis and, therefore, not compensated for the overtime hours they worked. They did, however, have their pay docked for the time they missed by arriving at work late for their shifts, which violated what had been agreed upon in their contract. Their NYSNA nursing representative, Mary Lou Cahill, filed a grievance, which they won.
Several years later, the nurse practitioners were still being penalized financially for lateness and various other bookkeeping errors. Cahill filed another grievance. In the negotiations that followed, the nurse practitioners were switched to hourly rather than salaried employees. They preferred this, as it meant they would now receive compensation for the overtime hours they worked.
In the negotiations for this grievance, they also won half-time back pay for their overtime for the period of time between Nov. 1, 2008 and March 27, 2010. These awards ranged from $90 to $8,000 per nurse.
“Mary Lou worked tirelessly for this. It took years. We were in touch three or four times a week, sometimes. I don’t think it would have happened without her.” said Prison Health Services RN Sheila Devlin Craane. “They were docking us for all kinds of things. It was just unbelievable. You had to keep track of every minute.”