SIUH: Contract NOW!

More than 55 nurses from Staten Island University Hospital, Richmond University Medical Center, and Sea View Rehabilitation Center, as well as some former LICH nurses came together on December 14 for a packed agenda at the Staten Island Interregional Meeting. Among items on the agenda: a bargaining update from SIUH case managers and discharge planners and a discussion led by NYSNA Treasurer Pat Kane, RN, on community organizing efforts through the Sustainable Staten Island Coalition.

Case managers and home care discharge planners at Staten Island University Hospital voted nearly a year ago to add their voices to those of the hospital’s 1,100 bedside nurses as part of NYSNA. After months of negotiations, the 38 nurses hand delivered a message to management on November 18. The letter, signed by hundreds of SIUH NYSNA nurses, demanded respect for the hospital’s newest NYSNA members and a contract!

For Donna Magrone, RN and one of 10 nurses whose works in home care discharge planning, nurse unity is making all the difference. “Earlier in the fall, after a particularly frustrating negotiating session, we called an emergency meeting during lunch in the cafeteria. Hundreds of nurses stopped by and we had a serious discussion about how far we were willing to go to get our contract. We created quite a buzz throughout the hospital.” That buzz reverberated, and management got the message. Bargaining soon started moving forward.

Nurse unity key

Like many, Phyllis Beck, RN and SIUH Case Manager, is eager to get the contract she deserves. One of her main reasons for joining NYSNA was to even the playing field between bedside nurses and case managers. “Case management has a really hard time recruiting from within the hospital. The nurses don’t want to leave their NYSNA benefits, which are superior to those of case managers.” Recruiting difficulty has led to high caseloads, which in turn creates problems with retention.

The nurses attribute recent bargaining progress to demonstrations of nurse unity, both within the smaller unit and hospital wide, and are optimistic that an agreement will soon be finalized. “When we started showing the hospital that we are united, that we won’t be separated, that’s when we started really seeing movement,” said Ms. Magrone.

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