NEW YORK NURSE: October 2009
by Mark Genovese
Informational picketing in September helped resolve one contract dispute in the North Country, while another bargaining unit in Central New York is planning additional activities to bring about progress in their talks.
As this edition went to press, RNs at Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown had just reached agreement on a new three-year contract. The agreement came after picketing on Sept. 3, in which more than 400 RNs and supporters participated, followed by an intensive advertising campaign. The picket and campaign focused on how low staffing levels could compromise patient care. Over the past year, there had been an average of 40 unfilled registered nurse positions at the medical center, or about 11% of its RN workforce.
Registered nurses at St. Elizabeth Medical Center are refusing to give up benefits that are vital to recruiting and retaining highly skilled nurses at the Utica facility. More than 400 RNs took part in a spirited informational picket on Sept. 16. “St. E’s” proposal to freeze payments to the defined-benefit pension plan and to do away with the daily calculation for overtime would cause many experienced RNs to leave.
“These proposals for financial givebacks are misguided and unacceptable,” said Vicky Longo, NYSNA nursing representative. “Management negotiators have already indicated the medical center is not experiencing financial difficulties.” Additional activities are being planned.