For Immediate Release
Contact: Mark Genovese, 518.782.9400, ext. 353
KINGSTON, Sept. 14, 2009 – Registered nurses employed by Nistel, Inc., have charged management with unfair labor practices, in protest of aggressive tactics to silence supporters of their union.
The charges were filed by the nurses’ union, the New York State Nurses Association, with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on July 15, 2009, and August 31, 2009. Nistel is a for-profit “leasing” company, employing registered nurses who work at Health Alliance facilities.
The first charge alleges that Nistel violated federal labor law by changing the nurses’ on-call, travel, and holiday pay; on-call staffing; and work hours, including overtime; without notice to or bargaining with the association.
The second charge alleges that Nistel discriminated against an RN by issuing a warning to her, suspending her employment, notifying her that she would be reassigned to another location, and threatening her with termination, because of her legally protected activities on behalf of the Nurses Association. This charge also alleges that Nistel made additional unilateral changes to nurses’ working conditions. The NLRB is investigating the charges.
One nurse was banned from the Benedictine Hospital campus because she directed a union representative to a department where nurses had serious health and safety complaints. In the other case, a respected nurse with 29 years of service was transferred to another department against her will. Both of these nurses are outspoken union leaders. The nurses have been distributing leaflets throughout the community this week to inform local residents of the situation.
“We recently voted to join the Nurses Association, so we can improve patient care delivery through better nursing staffing and practices,” said a Nistel RN who asked that her name not be released out of fear of retaliation. “Instead of working with us toward these goals, Nistel recently disciplined two of our nurse leaders for their union activities.”
The nurses note that across the river, Nurses Association members at Vassar Brothers Medical Center have won significant victories in improving staffing and patient care. “But at Health Alliance, our issues are ignored,” the RN said “Instead, our employer attacks our union.”
“The Nurses Association is committed to supporting and advocating for the Health Alliance members and is committed to ensuring that Health Alliance members secure a strong first contract," said Lorraine Seidel, RN, director of the association’s Economic and General Welfare program.
The RNs are asking the public to join them in telling the Health Alliance to listen to its nurses and put patients first. They are asking the public to call Health Alliance CEO David Lundquist at 845.331.3131, or fax him at 845.331.3238 and tell him to stop the attacks and start working with the Nurses Association.
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.