NEW YORK NURSE: November/December 2011
On the day that the 150 RNs at this Gloversville hospital were scheduled to strike, they instead approved a new three-year contract containing provisions that are designed to help the hospital retain experienced RNs and recruit new hires.
Throughout nearly a year of contentious negotiations, the nurses’ negotiating team made every possible effort, including the use of a federal mediator, to reach an amicable settlement. Left with no other choice, the RNs voted overwhelmingly on Nov. 1 to authorize a strike. The new agreement retains the scope of the nurses’ healthcare coverage and calls for a joint labor/management committee to discuss staffing issues and a workplace violence prevention policy to be established.
In an effort to end the stalemate, the nurses withdrew their requests for more staffing, and agreed to accrue less sick time when the current contract expires. Although this helped to resolve the conflict, this is the third contract in which the nurses provided givebacks – while during the same time period, the hospital’s finances have been in the black and executive salaries have increased.
More than 220 RNs took part in informational picketing at Staten Island University Hospital-North on Oct. 18 – the same day that officials from Joint Commission conducted a site visit – to demonstrate to hospital management they’re willing to fight for their benefits and pension.
After years of financial difficulties, the administration of Bertrand Chaffee Hospital and Jennie B. Richmond Nursing Home is trying to balance its budget by demanding cuts to wages and benefits of unionized employees. Nurses say they’ve been working with management for several years to keep the hospital open and are willing to continue to do so, but they’ve already done more than their part to share the sacrifice.
More than 55 RNs took part in informational picketing at Beth Abraham Healthcare Services in the Bronx on Nov. 17 and 19. The RNs are seeking a fair contract that protects their benefits and provides competitive wages.
Despite nine months of intensive contract negotiations, management of St. Charles Hospital is still not addressing its nurses’ request for stricter RN-to-patient staffing guidelines. So the RNs conducted a second informational picket on Nov. 16 in front of the hospital in Port Jefferson. Other recruitment and retention issues the RNs are concerned about include wages that keep pace with inflation and affordable health insurance. The most recent, three-year contract for the 325 RNs expired on March 31. The RNs held their first picket in July.