NYSNA nurses at St. John’s Riverside Hospital (SJRH) in Yonkers were celebrating as 2016 came to a close. On December 22, they ratified an outstanding new five-year agreement that delivers both strong economic gains and patient care improvements.
“We fought for and locked in reasonable annual increases, a signing bonus, fair payment of shift differentials, improved floating language, the creation of a float pool that pays a 10% incentive, increased on call pay, tuition refund, and educational differentials,” LBU President Kathy Hoffer, RN, said. SJRH agreed to hire 4 additional RN Full Time Equivalents and to make staffing grid improvements in the ER on the main campus and in the PACU at the Dobbs Ferry Pavilion.
Maintaining health and pension benefits were key priorities for the hospital’s 381 NYSNA nurses: “We held our ground and kept all of our benefits, all fully paid by the hospital with no costs to us,” said Regina Odell, RN, an 11-year veteran of the hospital’s maternity unit.
John Edwards, RN (SJRH Dobbs Ferry Pavilion) and NYSNA Negotiating Committee member, was determined to protect health and retirement benefits and to improve the pension benefits for younger nurses. “We did it! We won significant bumps in the hospital’s contributions to the defined contribution plan,” Mr. Edwards said.
Ms. Odell believes these improvements are vital to nurse retention. “When hospitals short-change younger nurses on pensions, they aren’t doing a good enough job of anchoring nurses for long-term retention. It’s so important to keep experienced nurses on staff.”
The contract was overwhelmingly ratified by a 96 percent margin. NYSNA’s Negotiating Committee worked really hard, said Ms. Odell. Mr. Edwards attributed the strong endorsement to the commitment and unity of the SJRH nurses. “That,” said Mr. Edwards, “came through in the agreement we were able to reach.”