For Immediate Release
Contact: Mark Genovese, 518.782.9400, ext. 353
FLUSHING, Dec. 28, 2011 – Upset that management plans to stop payments to their health and pension plans, registered nurses at Flushing Hospital Medical Center are planning a protest for next week.
The RNs are currently negotiating a new contract with management and are seeking to improve their working conditions. But hospital management has refused to sign interim agreements that continue the benefit plans.
To show management they won’t be intimidated, the nurses will conduct an informational picket from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 5, in front of the hospital at 4500 Parsons Blvd.
The current contract for the 350 nurses, who are represented by the New York State Nurses Association, will expire on Dec. 31, 2011. The interim agreements would guarantee continuation of both for six months after contract expiration while the parties continue to negotiate. Health benefits continue 90 days after expiration whether the interim agreement is signed or not. But their pension plan would end on Jan. 1, 2012.
The RNs say that comprehensive health and pension coverage is necessary because RNs are likely to suffer from health problems developed while on the job – such as neck and back injuries, high stress, and risk of exposure to contagious disease – and often cannot continue working until the average retirement age of 65.
Quality health coverage is also a key element in encouraging RNs to come to Flushing Hospital and convincing experienced nurses to stay. Improving recruitment and retention, in turn, is crucial to improving RN-to-patient staffing. Studies have shown that hospitals with better staffing have better patient outcomes.
Management has also put proposals on the table that would cost each nurse $150,000 in lost lifetime pension benefits, while offering no wage increase for three years.
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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