For Immediate Release
Contact: Robin Wood, 518.782.9400, ext 223
BROOKLYN, September 6, 2011 – Nurses always consider striking a last resort, but in response to management contract proposals that would degrade the nurses’ quality of life, the registered nurses of the Brooklyn Hospital Center voted September 1 and 2 to authorize a strike. Members of the 500-person bargaining unit turned out overwhelmingly to let management know they would not accept an unfair and unreasonable contract that cuts their pension, health benefits and take-home pay.
“As nurses, we are absolutely committed to providing the best quality care to our patients and the community, but hospital management has taken the stance that they are not going to acknowledge the nurses’ value,” 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.
The Nurses Association remains willing to negotiate a fair contract with Brooklyn Hospital management, and negotiations are scheduled for September 6. Negotiations have been ongoing since the nurses’ most recent one-year contract expired in December 2010. 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 they must understand that the nurses are united and 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 nurses have received a brief reprieve on one of their concerns. After more than a week of not having their employer-provided health insurance coverage, the Brooklyn Hospital nurses have had that benefit reinstated retroactive to August 28 – for 30 days. Despite the fact that the hospital has a legal obligation to maintain the nurses’ benefits and working conditions while negotiations are ongoing, hospital management originally allowed the nurses health insurance to lapse.
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.
“Management is taking advantage of concerns about the overall economic climate to advance proposals that undercut the nurses’ quality of life,” Murphy said.
Management is seeking to downgrade the nurses’ pension plan, cutting benefits and removing the option for nurses to retire at 60 without penalty. They are also seeking cuts in the nurses’ health insurance benefits and overall are asking for concessions that would cost experienced nurses at least an estimated $6,180 per nurse over three years and equate to a pay cut of $1,680.
“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,” 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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