The NYSNA Benefits Plan provides healthcare coverage for more than 14,000 members in 38 bargaining units. The plan’s goal has been to provide excellent benefits for NYSNA members and their families. For years, we have been able to maintain benefits at their current level, because we believe that RNs deserve the best health coverage. But now, the NYSNA Benefits Plan is under attack.
NYSNA knows that quality health coverage keeps you healthy and caring for your patients. This is why NYSNA has mounted a campaign to protect members’ health benefits, similar to the pension protection campaign that was so successful last year. We encourage you: attend membership meetings, stay informed, sign petitions, wear the buttons and stickers, display posters, and participate in organized activities. Call and e-mail the hospital CEOs and tell them: DON’T CUT NURSES’ HEALTH BENEFITS!
The employer trustees of the NYSNA Benefits Fund think the recent arbitrator’s decision has given them
the right to decimate health insurance coverage through the NYSNA Benefits Fund. But they don’t know the battle that’s ahead. The front line is now the bargaining table. Nurses have a right to quality health coverage and a
right to bargain a wide range of plans at the negotiating table. Nurses dedicate their lives providing excellent health care to patients; it’s only fair that nurses get excellent health care for themselves and their families.
You count on nurses. At some point in our lives, everyone does. Nurses bring lives into the world. We save lives. We provide the information and education people need to get well and stay healthy. We help people put their lives back on track. It’s an important job. It’s a rewarding job. It’s also a difficult job. Nurses are regularly exposed to injury, contagious diseases and the threat of violence. Comprehensive health insurance represents the healthcare industry’s commitment to treating registered nurses fairly. Shouldn’t nurses be able to get the excellent health care we provide?
Apparently, hospital management doesn’t think so.
On May 23, approximately 40 NYSNA members and staff came out for an informational picket at 8:15 AM, just before the day’s Benefit Fund arbitration hearing in Manhattan. They made enough noise to be heard upstairs in the meeting room, where the NYSNA team continued to make the case for preserving the health benefits offered by the fund. NYSNA members continued the protest by emailing the employer trustees, letting them know that quality health benefits are crucial to keeping nurses healthy so they can care for patients.
NYSNA Nurses from 20 hospitals and healthcare facilities held rallies May 11 to oppose cuts to the NYSNA Benefits Plan, raise visibility about staffing and other nursing issues, and defend the right of public sector workers to organize and be represented for collective bargaining. Fifteen of the informational pickets were held by NYSNA facilities covered under the NYSNA Benefits Fund, which is under attack by the employer trustees.
Arbitration hearing dates for the Benefits Fund were held on May 16, 18 and 23, with the arbitrator's opinion and award released on June 20. For more information, login to NYSNA’s members only website.
NYSNA has asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to conduct an anti-trust investigation into the activities of the League of Voluntary Hospitals and Homes, which NYSNA believes is sharing non-public information for the purpose of depressing nurses' wages and benefits in the New York City area.
Even nurses working under contract that are in effect at this time, would be affected if the employer trustees are successful in their efforts to cut nurses’ health benefits. The trustees of the NYSNA Benefits Fund can make changes to the benefits plan at any time – and the employer trustees have indicated that they want their proposed cuts to take effect for everyone immediately – regardless of contract status.
The NYSNA trustees contend if any changes are made in the plan the effective date should coincide with your successor collective bargaining agreement, and that the level of benefits is best determined during bargaining, but the arbitrator will decide the plan’s ongoing benefits, including what cuts, if any, will be made, what they will be, and when they will take effect.
Unlike other funds, the NYSNA Benefits Fund has not been financially stressed, nor do we anticipate that it will be. However, the plan’s employer trustees are trying to take advantage of the economic and political climate, with its emphasis on cost-cutting and union bashing, to aggressively demand reductions that would decimate the plan as you currently know it, including:
NYSNA has been involved in intense negotiations to retain the plan’s current level of benefits, including sessions with a professional mediator. Despite the willingness of NYSNA’s trustees to discuss the issues and reach a fair settlement, the employer trustees rejected the mediator’s advisory recommendation. NYSNA had no choice but to take this matter to arbitration.
We are in the process of expedited arbitration, with dates scheduled for May 16, 18 and 23. We understand the urgency of a positive resolution to this matter for two reasons: first, the lack of established rates for next year and beyond is delaying negotiations for many bargaining unit contracts. And second, it affects the level of coverage that you and your family will receive impacting your health care and family finances.