NEW YORK NURSE: January 2013
Vassar RNs stuck together and won a new contract that protects patient care.
The nurses at Vassar Brothers Medical Center have battled with management since March. On Nov. 2 they voted for a new contract that includes increases in pay and medical leave benefits, as well as a promise to maintain safe staffing guidelines at this Poughkeepsie hospital.
Vassar nurses successfully bargained for staffing ratios in 2000.
New contract language will require management to meet via joint committee twice a year to thoroughly review staffing by unit and recommend safe staffing guidelines.
For each year of their contract, Vassar nurses will receive a 2 percent wage increase. Longevity bonuses were also increased for RNs with 30 or more years’ experience to encourage retention.
In addition to pay raises, extended medical leave was hotly debated between the nurses and management over the eight-month negotiations. The nurses won increased time off with full healthcare coverage to recover from personal illness or injury, or to care for family members who are ill.
Bargaining Unit member Karen Moore, RN, is pleased with the new contract and says that “while the increases in pay and paid medical leave were key wins, the staffing guidelines are important gains that will make a difference for patients on our units.”