More than 1,000 RNs at 20 different New York City-area hospitals and healthcare facilities participated in NYSNA’s “Day of Solidarity” May 11, sending a clear message that nurses will join together to stand up for what’s right and fight for quality healthcare benefits.
The majority of the rallies were focused on preserving healthcare benefits for nurses covered under the NYSNA Benefits Fund. Despite the fact that the NYSNA Benefits Fund is not financially stressed, the plan’s employer trustees are trying to take advantage of the economic and political climate to aggressively demand reductions in nurses' health care benefits. Find out how you can help the 14,000 nurses covered under the NYSNA Benefits Fund fight for quality healthcare coverage.
Other rallies sought to raise the visibility of safe staffing and other nursing issues, and to defend union rights for public sector workers. Here are some snapshots (click on individual thumbnails for a larger version) and an overview from a few of the rallies:
An intensive internal organizing campaign by the executive committee and delegates at Brooklyn’s Maimonides Medical Center resulted in the participation of more than 400 RNs. “We sent out fliers, contacted people one-on-one, and made calls,” said Winnie Kennedy, LBU co-chair. “The concerted attack on medical benefits affects every nurse and their family members.”
Montefiore held rallies at both its Moses and Weiler locations, gathering more than 250 NYSNA members to take part in informational picketing. The bargaining unit’s most recent contract expired on Dec. 31, 2010. The Day of Solidarity provided an opportunity to express to their dissatisfaction with continued delays in contract talks and with the lack of response by Montefiore management to their concerns about RN-to-patient staffing.
More than 500 NYSNA members from New York Presbyterian Hospital rallied to protest attacks on the NYSNA Benefits Fund. Nurses from every floor formed two picket lines in front of the hospital and chanted: “We save patients, save our benefits!” Passersby took interest in the event and more than one expressed concern that nurses are being asked to pay more for health care while hospital CEOs maintain hefty paychecks. Union members from Wisconsin also joined the nurses to support their right to organize and be represented for collective bargaining.
About 60 nurses at Terence Cardinal Cooke wore their NYSNA-red tops and sent a strong message. The rally showed the nurses’ unity, said NYSNA member Vivene Johnson. Nurses are used to coming together to advocate for their patients and “now we need to come together to stick up for our rights,” she said.
At Staten Island University Hospital, 139 nurses marched in a long line down busy Seaview Avenue, many wearing their hospital scrubs. They energetically shook their red plastic “hand-clappers” and carried signs that read: “Be Fair to Those Who Care,” and other slogans supporting the fight to preserve the NYSNA Benefits Fund.
More than 300 nurses came out to rally between the hospital’s center’s two Manhattan sites, many on their lunch breaks. They had fun encouraging passing drivers to honk in support.
The rally at Mount Sinai drew more than 300 participants and a constant crowd of around 50. The rally had a broad range of support, including retired RNs, nurses coming in on their day off, night-shift nurses, other healthcare professionals, and members of other unions and community members.
NYSNA’s rally in front of this Bay Shore facility drew more than 140 RNs (almost a quarter of the bargaining unit), plus NYSNA members from nearby Syosset Hospital and St. Joseph Hospital in Bethpage, as well as friends and family. “We walked united, stood strong and sent a clear message to the employer trustees: “Do not cut the health benefits that we worked so hard and long for,” said LBU President Virginia Meyers. “We were out there to tell management that we will not tolerate their attempts to undermine collective bargaining by asking an arbitrator to decimate benefits – even for those contracts which are signed, sealed and in full force.” Southside RNs had their own reason for taking part in the event after difficult negotiations for the most recent contract, they are working under a “last, best, and final offer” imposed by management and want to show their employer that they will continue to fight for their rights.
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The New York State Nurses Association is the voice for nursing in the Empire State. With more than 37,000 members, it is the state's largest union and professional association for registered nurses. It supports nurses and nursing practice through education, research, legislative advocacy, and collective bargaining.