For Immediate Release
Contact: Mark Genovese, 518.782.9400, ext. 353
FLUSHING, January 20, 2012 – For nearly a year, registered nurses at Flushing Hospital have made a sincere effort to negotiate a fair contract. Hospital management, however, hasn’t.
Flushing RNs are particularly angered that management is now trying to intimidate them by stopping payments to their health and pension plans. Believing management has left them with no other choice, the RNs voted overwhelmingly tonight to authorize a strike.
The 420 RNs are represented by the New York State Nurses Association. Their most-recent contract expired on Dec. 31, 2011.
Under federal labor law, a strike cannot start until 10 days after the nurses’ negotiating committee serves the hospital with a notice of intent. This advance notice has not yet been served. There is only one remaining session so far, scheduled for Jan. 23, 2012.
In December, hospital management refused to sign interim agreements to guarantee continuation of health and pension coverage for six months after contract expiration while the parties continue to negotiate. Health benefits will continue for 90 days after expiration whether the interim agreement is signed or not. But their pension plan ended on Jan. 1, 2012.
“This situation has left us with our backs to a wall,” said Theresa McGorty, RN, co-chairperson of the bargaining unit. McGorty noted that she, along with many of her colleagues, grew up in this neighborhood and delivered their children at this hospital. They helped keep the hospital open during bankruptcy by freezing their experience differential and accepting a wage freeze.
“We’re not asking for anything out of the ordinary. We just need to be able to recruit and retain professional registered nurses by keeping us in line with other facilities,” McGorty said, adding that management negotiators have been insulting, degrading, and disrespectful of the hospital’s RNs. “Having no benefits and no pension after 35 years of service is like a slap in the face.”
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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