NEW YORK NURSE: September 2009
by Mark Genovese
Registered nurses at Vassar Brothers Medical Center approved a new three-year contract on Aug. 20 that includes a plan to provide health coverage for nurses after they retire.
Retiree health coverage was a crucial issue over the nine months of negotiations between the medical center and the nurses. The contract establishes a trust fund that will make it possible for nurses to purchase private health insurance until they are covered by Medicare. The medical center will make an annual contribution of more than $740,000 to the fund, and also will cover start-up costs and annual administrative costs.
To be eligible to participate in the retiree health program, nurses must be at least 62 years old and have 20 years of service.
Other provisions of the agreement:
Negotiations for a new contract for the 800 member bargaining unit in Poughkeepsie began in November 2008. More than 400 registered nurses from the medical center then took part in an enthusiastic informational picket on May 1.
“This agreement could not have been reached without the support of our members at Vassar Brothers,” said Bill Conley, NYSNA labor representative. “This agreement will help the hospital to remain vital and continue its mission of providing superior care.”