For Immediate Release
Contact: Mark Genovese, 518.782.9400, ext. 353
NEWFANE, Sept. 18, 2009 – Registered nurses who work at Eastern Niagara Health System’s Newfane site have filed an unfair labor practice (ULP) charge against their employer. The charge cites the health system’s failure to bargain in good faith for going back on its word concerning a contract proposal.
The 50 nurses, represented by the New York State Nurses Association, are currently negotiating a new contract. Their most recent contract expired on Aug. 31.
There have been 16 sessions since negotiations began in January. During several of the sessions, the parties discussed clarifying the contract’s current provisions on holiday time. In April, they agreed to the idea of creating an ongoing “holiday accrual bank.” This would give the nurses some flexibility in using their holiday time, while limiting the health system’s financial liability.
But Nurses Association negotiators learned near the end of a day-long session on Aug. 26 that the health system was not going to set up a time bank. Health system negotiators pulled the proposal off the table, saying the system did not have the necessary software to track compensatory time. The compensatory time bank, however, continued to appear in the health system’s proposals. The parties worked late into the night with the help of a federal mediator to reach an agreement, but to no avail.
The Nurses Association is insisting the health system live up to its commitment. In recent years, many of the RNs have forfeited their accrued holiday time because they either were unable to take the time off due to staffing needs or didn’t realize they had the time available. Creating such a bank would ensure the nurses could use their earned time while providing the hospital with more lead time to prepare its staffing schedule accordingly.
“This dispute isn’t about money,” said Gaen Hooley, RN, Nurses Association labor relations representative. “It’s about respect for the registered nurses of this hospital and recognition of their contributions to the hospital and this community. It’s about integrity and living up to your commitments.”
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.