In Brief: March/April 2016

Onondaga RNs keep pushing for fair contract

Onondaga County NYSNA members showed up in force, and wearing red, to hear County Executive Joanne Mahoney present her “2016 State of the County” address. In December, Ms. Mahoney and county legislators voted themselves substantial pay increases but have resisted nurses’ demands for a fair contract for the county’s 50 RNs.

NYSNA advocates at Somos

Members from Montefiore, Bronx Lebanon, and NYC Health + Hospitals Elmhurst Hospital attended Somos el Futuro in Albany, March 18-20, where they participated in workshops on the Puerto Rican debt crisis, reforming the healthcare delivery system, environmental justice and more. When not in workshops, they spoke with elected leaders about safe staffing and other issues of importance to nurses and our patients.

Settlement with Livingston County

Livingston County’s 28 NYSNA public health nurses reached a mediated settlement with county supervisors this month that includes raises and increased longevity and on-call pay. The agreement is retroactive to July 1, 2014 and goes through June 30, 2017.

Solidarity at VBMC

NYSNA nurses and 1199SEIU caregivers at Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie held a candlelight vigil on April 6 to call community attention to staffing shortfalls at the hospital and to a new policy, which management has euphemistically named “the Dependability Policy,” that penalizes employees who call in sick.

RNs filed twice as many POAs in the past year than in the previous year, documenting dramatic increases in staffing shortfalls in nearly every department among nurses, technologists, technicians, and support staff. Short staffing puts tremendous strain on nurses and caregivers and can threaten the quality of care that patients receive. The new so-called Dependability Policy adds to the strain, and staff say they can no longer call in sick without fear of reprisal, and they worry that forcing sick caregivers to work could put patients at risk.

“Inadequate staffing throughout the hospital, working to exhaustion — these conditions show that management has little regard for employees and the community they serve,” said Rose Decker, RN.

NYSNA and 1199SEIU members have vowed to continue to work together to fight for safer staffing for patients and against the implementation of the so-called Dependability Policy. “We go above and beyond every day to give our patients the care they deserve. Instead of recognizing our contribution, VBMC chooses to be punitive,” said Cyndi Sexton, RN.

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