NEW YORK NURSE: September 2011
by Mark Genovese
Negotiators for the management of New York Presbyterian Hospital apparently want to keep contract talks secret.
During two negotiation sessions with NYSNA this summer, management said it wanted to conduct “sidebars” instead of meeting with the entire team. NYSNA Labor Representative Tom Darby said the team quickly detected that this was a stalling tactic. “We said: ‘no more sidebars.’ Then they refused to come to the table.” So on a scorching hot July 26, more than 700 RNs conducted informational pickets at each of the hospital’s sites in northern Manhattan. The most-recent, two-year contract for the 2,600 RNs expired on Jan. 1, 2011.
Although the hospital was recently ranked first in New York City and among the top six in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, Presbyterian RNs say there are underlying problems with their working conditions and labor/management relations that must be addressed if the hospital is to continue to recruit and retain nurses.
One is health insurance. New York Presbyterian participates in the NYSNA Benefits Fund. The plan’s employer trustees aggressively demanded reductions in healthcare benefits, despite the fact that the fund wasn’t financially stressed. Although a decision in binding arbitration called for replacing existing NYSNA benefit plans with three new plans that will require employee contributions to premiums, increased co-pays, and changes to offered coverage, NYSNA members, including those at Presbyterian are still able to fight at the negotiating table to retain the affordability and comprehensiveness of their coverage.