For Immediate Release
Contact: Mark Genovese, 518.782.9400, ext. 353
POUGHKEEPSIE, April 24, 2009 – An expiring contract and stalled negotiations are prompting registered nurses from Vassar Brothers Medical Center to conduct a public protest on Friday, May 1, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The most recent contract for the 800 RNs expires on April 30. The RNs are currently negotiating for a new agreement.
The nurses are involved in contentious contract negotiations with an employer who to date has failed to listen to their concerns. Management has rejected the nurses’ request for retiree health coverage – despite the nurses’ expressed willingness to discuss a variety of options for meeting the needs of both parties.
During negotiations, the nurses proposed improved staffing, but the medical center refused to respond. It then prematurely declared impasse without considering most of the RNs’ other proposals.
Contract talks are an indication of a much larger problem. The nurses believe there’s been a change for the worse in labor-management relations at Vassar Brothers and that nurses are being denied their first-amendment rights of freedom of speech.
In February, the RNs filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board against the medical center when management told the nurses they could not wear scrub tops embossed with the union’s logo at work. The nurses were disappointed that management took such a harsh stance. Wearing their logo scrub top shows their pride in their status as RNs and their dedication to their professional association.
Earlier this month, medical center security denied Nurses Association staff access to the medical floors, instructing them they would only be allowed access to the cafeteria. This is an intentional violation of the nurses’ contractual right to meet with their representatives in the workplace. It is intended to shut down communication among the nurses.
The New York State Nurses Association is the voice for nursing in the Empire State. With more than 36,000 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.