For Immediate Release
Contact: Robin Wood, 518.782.9400, ext 223
BROOKLYN, September 1, 2011 – In the face of having their health insurance benefits cut off by management and in response to an economic package that doesn’t allow nurses to adequately support themselves and their families, the 500 registered nurses of the Brooklyn Hospital Center will vote Thursday and Friday on authorizing a strike.
“As nurses, we are committed to our patients and our community. We consider a strike a last resort, but management has made it clear they are not committed to reaching a fair contract with the nurses,” said Roberta Murphy, MS, RN, associate director of the Economic and General Welfare program of the New York State Nurses Association, which represents the registered nurses at Brooklyn Hospital.
“Breaking with all of the traditions of bargaining in good faith, Brooklyn Hospital management has already cut off the nurses’ health insurance benefits,” Murphy said. “They have a moral and legal obligation to maintain the nurses working conditions and benefits while we are negotiating a new contract. Clearly, they just don’t care.”
The registered nurses at Brooklyn Hospital understand the challenges facing the hospital and have repeatedly sacrificed for the good of the hospital. In fact, the union’s current contract proposals provide substantial cost savings to the hospital.
But, the Nurses Association does not believe hospital management is negotiating in good faith. They are asking for concessions that would cost experienced nurses at least an estimated $5,260 per nurse over three years.
“You just can’t call that a competitive offer,” Murphy said. “A proposal like this won’t allow Brooklyn Hospital to recruit and retain experienced, professional nurses. It’s bad for the nurses, bad for the hospital and bad for the community.”
“And the last time they asked for concessions, the nurses received no raises and the hospital CEO took a bonus of more than $300,000. How is that shared sacrifice?” Murphy said.
Right now, Brooklyn Hospital’s nurses are going without their employer-provided health insurance coverage because management refused last week to sign the standard interim agreement that would have maintained the nurses’ health insurance for another 60 days while negotiations continue.
The Nurses Association has filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and is seeking an injunction to restore the nurses’ health insurance benefits, which ended as of 12:01 a.m. Sunday, August 28.
The Nurses Association and hospital management have been trying to negotiate a new contract since the nurses’ most recent one-year contract expired in December 2010. With the strike authorization in place, the union remains willing to continue negotiating. Labor law requires that the union provide at least 10-days advance notice before going out on strike.
“We are willing to go back to the table with management, but we want them to understand that the nurses are resolved to do what it takes to get a fair and reasonable contract. We are also asking the local community to stand with us and support the nurses who spend every day caring for patients,” Murphy said.
The New York State Nurses Association is the voice for nursing in the Empire State. With more than 37,000 members, it is New York’s largest professional association and union for registered nurses.The association represents registered nurses, and some all-professional bargaining units, in New York and New Jersey. It supports nurses and nursing practice through education, research, legislative advocacy, and collective bargaining.
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