NEW YORK NURSE: June 2011
More than 2,000 RNs at hospitals and healthcare facilities around New York City participated in rallies on May 11 to send a clear message that nurses will stand together to fight for their rights.
“With encouragement from the Congress of Local Bargaining Unit Leaders and their NYSNA representatives, NYSNA members, themselves, organized these Day of Solidarity rallies to demonstrate how urgent their concerns are,” said NYSNA CEO Tina Gerardi. “RNs are saying with a collective voice that the healthcare industry must provide RNs with a working environment that allows them to provide quality care to their patients. They’re saying that they will not quietly do their jobs and allow management to take away the rights that workers, that nurses, have fought for and won.”
The majority of the rallies were focused on preserving healthcare benefits for nurses covered under the NYSNA Benefits Fund, which covers more than 14,000 members in 38 bargaining units. Despite the fact that the NYSNA Benefits Fund is not financially stressed, the plan’s employer trustees are trying to take advantage of the economic and political climate to aggressively demand reductions in nurses’ health care benefits.
NYSNA has been involved in intense negotiations to retain the Benefits Fund’s current level of benefits. Despite the willingness of NYSNA’s trustees to discuss the issues and reach a fair settlement, the employer trustees rejected a mediator’s advisory recommendation. NYSNA had no choice but to take the matter to arbitration, and as this issue went to press, is awaiting the arbitrator’s decision, expected by June 30.
Additional May 11 rallies sought to raise the visibility of safe staffing and other nursing issues, and to defend union rights for public sector workers.