NEW YORK NURSE: January-February 2011
by Mark Genovese
NYSNA has filed unfair labor practice charges against Shore Memorial Hospital in Somers Point, NJ, for violations relating to a December 2010 layoff.
Submitted to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Jan. 12, the charges say management intimidated and retaliated against NYSNA members for refusing to agree to the hospital’s giveback demands.
On Nov. 29, 2010, Shore management called NYSNA to an emergency meeting to discuss the hospital’s financial crisis. NYSNA Nursing Representative Darlene Coccaro said they gave NYSNA a list of giveback demands and threatened to eliminate RN positions if NYSNA didn’t agree to givebacks by reopening the current contract.
NYSNA suggested alternatives that would have saved both jobs and money. Among other options, the association was willing to discuss extending to RNs the early retirement package that hospital management offered to the non-union employees, which would have saved the hospital a significant amount. NYSNA also suggested allowing RNs to volunteer for layoff or a reduction in hours.
Shore’s management declined. “They refused to discuss any other options to involuntary layoffs and refused to guarantee to us in writing that opening the contract would save jobs now or in the future,” said NYSNA Organizer Lisa Ruiz. “There was nothing further to discuss.”
During the next six weeks, Coccaro and Ruiz were on-site, counseling RNs individually and holding group meetings. They heard reports from Shore nurses about coercion and harassment, that seniority rules weren’t being followed, and that the hospital’s human resources department wasn’t answering questions.
NYSNA representatives fought for every job management planned to eliminate. They convinced management to divide some full-time positions so that RNs could maintain their jobs and employment status.
“This layoff affected almost 40 RNs in different ways,” Coccaro said. “Sadly, 11 RNs ended up leaving Shore – although management claims it was only five. Some RNs saw reductions in their hours and changes in status from full- to part-time. Others were left with no other choice but to accept positions on different units and shifts.”
In addition to the NLRB complaint, NYSNA is gathering information to file complaints with the New Jersey Department of Health because of the layoff’s impact on staffing and patient care, and with the Department of Labor over the hospital’s violations of state labor law. NYSNA has also filed multiple grievances with the hospital for violating the nurses’ contract rights. The contract for the 490 RNs at Shore doesn’t expire until Dec. 31, 2011.