For Immediate Release
Contact: Mark Genovese, 518.782.9400, ext. 353
VALHALLA, Nov. 30, 2011 – Registered nurses at Westchester Medical Center have declared an impasse in their contract talks with medical center management.
The 1,400 RNs are represented by the New York State Nurses Association. Their most recent five-year contract expired on March 31, 2011. The declaration of impasse was filed this morning with the New York State Public Employment Relations Board (PERB).
Nurses say the medical center’s continues to display a lack of respect for registered nurses and the vital role they play in the public health system.
At yesterday’s negotiations, the nurses offered a counter proposal with givebacks totaling nearly $9 million – including changes in healthcare co-pays and zero wage increases to prevent a proposed 250 layoffs. But medical center management said the layoffs would not come off the table under any circumstance and that layoffs would not be reduced by eliminating vacant positions.
The nurses’ negotiating committee believes it has tried repeatedly during the past year to reach a reasonable settlement, but management has yet to address their concerns about staffing, patient safety, and the ability to maintain a stable nursing workforce. Instead, it continues to demand givebacks.
Under the Taylor Law, which governs collective bargaining for public employees in New York, PERB may require the parties to meet with a mediator for up to three sessions. The mediator has no power to force either side to agree to anything, but attempts to use problem-solving and communications to move the parties toward agreement.
If mediation fails to produce a new contract, the process moves to the next level, which is called “fact finding.” In this phase, each party presents its issues and rationale to an impartial impasse panel, which will issue non-binding recommendations for a new contract.
If both mediation and fact finding fail, the final step in the process is for the legislative body to impose a one-year contract. Negotiations would then resume for a full contract. Other than a wage increase, nothing in the nurses' contract can be changed except through negotiation.
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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