Strike! Nathan Littauer RNs draw the line

For NYSNA nurses at Nathan Littauer Hospital, a 74-bed facility in Gloversville, there was no alternative. After multiple rounds of bargaining with no progress on key priorities, the nurses carried out a one-day unfair labor practice strike on January 6.

Every nurse at Nathan Littauer is deeply committed to providing patients with the best care possible,” said Marion Enright, RN and LBU President. “We are all from this community and have sacrificed for the benefit of Nathan Littauer. All we’re asking for is a fair contract that enforces adequate staffing and protects employee health benefits to help recruit and retain skilled healthcare workers to care for patients.”

ULP charges filed

The next day, January 7, when the nurses reported to return to work, State Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, RN, was on hand to witness management’s refusal to allow the nurses entry into the hospital, instead informing them they would be locked out. “It was a cold morning in Gloversville, but I was proud to stand side by side with my fellow nurses as they were locked out of Nathan Littauer Hospital.”

“Several key departments are consistently short staffed,” said RNs in a statement read on January 7. “Our members have spoken out and submitted written statements about these serious staffing issues, yet management has failed to act to correct these conditions. This is completely unacceptable to us.”

Management enforced a lockout for four days, until January 11. NYSNA filed Unfair Labor Practice charges with the NLRB over refusal to bargain, bad faith bargaining, and refusal to reinstate the strikers.

Despite management’s intransigence, during each day of the lockout, RNs came out in force to stand up for the community’s right to safer staffing and the RNs right to fair benefits.

Press reports were extensive, as RNs eagerly spoke out, countering management’s distortions and misstatements about staffing levels, wages and benefits.

Members were very encouraged by the support received from members of the Johnstown and Gloversville fire departments and employees from Ellis Hospital in Schenectady, who joined the nurses on the picket line. NYS AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento brought a message of solidarity from the entire NYS labor community: “Your fight for a fair contract with fair wages and fair benefits and fair conditions of employment is everybody’s fight from Buffalo to Brooklyn to Long Island and everywhere in between.” In addition to Assemblywoman Gunther, State Senator Marc Panepinto, Assemblymen Phil Steck and Angelo Santabarbara, and Labor-Religion Coalition of NYS Executive Director Sara Niccoli joined the nurses outside the hospital.

‘This lockout is outrageous’

On January 10, the last day of the lockout, the nurses marched from Nathan Littauer to the Moose Lodge, where a standing-room-only crowd of area elected officials and labor and community members welcomed them to a barbecue and musical celebration in their honor. Albany County Legislator Doug Bullock was there and told the press, “This lockout is outrageous. It was enough to get me off my seat and come out here and support nurses. We really have to support working people again.” The nurses were overwhelmed with the outpouring of community support and heartened to continue their struggle. “We’re professionals and we’re here to take care of the patients. And we won’t stop until we’re able to come to an amicable decision,” said Ms. Enright.

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