Utica nurses turn up the heat

St. Elizabeth nurses waiting for management to arrive at negotiations on May 31.

NYSNA nurses at St. Elizabeth in Utica increased pressure on management after administrators attempted to back out of a negotiating session attended by 50 members of the bargaining unit.

RNs mobilized in all units and looked forward to attending the May 31 bargaining session. “This was the first time that the entire chapter was invited to attend, and for many it was their first exposure to the nitty-gritty of negotiations,” said Mike Pattison, RN and St. Elizabeth NYSNA Executive Committee Member.

The meeting was scheduled for 7 pm at the usual place within the College of Nursing. “When 50 nurses arrived, we found the College closed and no sign of management,” said Mary Thompson, an RN in St. Elizabeth’s Cardiac Unit. “After waiting nearly an hour, we all went together to management’s offices to bring them to the table.”

Standing room only

It turns out that management had moved the session without notice to a smaller room, apparently intimidated by the large group of vocal caregivers.

Mr. Pattison added, “That didn’t stop us. It may have been standing room only, but we made the hospital honor its commitment to meet.” The session began at 8:45 pm — one hour and forty-five minutes late.

By midnight, there was still no contract, but St. Elizabeth NYSNA members had gained new insight into the experience their bargaining committee had endured since negotiations started six months ago. The committee has presented contract proposals to raise patient care standards, resolve safe staffing concerns in a meaningful way, and provide fair wages and affordable healthcare for the hospital’s nearly 500 NYSNA nurses. The next meeting is scheduled for July 11.

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