NEW YORK NURSE: May 2011
by Mark Genovese
It was still winter in the North Country on April 7, when 60 registered nurses and supporters picketed in front of Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake for affordable health insurance.
The RNs are currently negotiating a new contract. Their most recent three-year agreement expired on Dec. 31, 2010.
Management wants to increase the nurses’ share of the cost for health coverage, claiming its contract offer is “competitive.” However, the RNs say it would be financially damaging to them and put the hospital at a competitive disadvantage.
Adirondack Medical Center pays the full premium for individual coverage for full-time RNs under its basic healthcare plan. RNs who opt for higher coverage pay only the difference. However, medical center management is demanding that RNs start paying a percentage of the individual premium under the basic plan. All other regional hospitals currently cover the entire individual premium for their full-time employees and their contracts have step and across-the-board increases for each year.
The hospital is also demanding that the practice of compensating RNs using both a step system and across-the-board salary increases be eliminated. Nurses say this would put Adirondack Medical Center behind the other hospitals by the end of the contract.
Negotiations were continuing as this edition went to press.