NEW YORK NURSE: April 2010
by Mark Genovese
All the registered nurses at Nyack Hospital are asking management for is some respect.
The nurses have been trying to negotiate a new contract that will improve the hospital’s ability to recruit RNs by offering fair salaries, competitive healthcare coverage, and funding to improve their skills.
But the hospital has not engaged in meaningful discussion about all of the nurses’ proposals. Before it will discuss any workplace improvement issues, it is demanding the nurses drop their health insurance for a plan that would increase their out-of-pocket expenses and provide less coverage.
To express their displeasure, the RNs conducted an informational picket on March 9. The most-recent, four-year contract for the 520 RNs expired on Dec. 31, 2009.
“We’ve been negotiating for five months, we’re growing increasingly frustrated over how management is holding contract talks hostage,” said Anna Marie Perkins, RN, president of the bargaining unit.
The Nurses Association believes affordable, comprehensive health coverage is a necessity because nursing is such a physically demanding profession and RNs place themselves at risk everyday of injury and contracting disease. The nurses want Nyack to be an attractive employer to new hires. But a weakened health plan will only discourage RN recruitment and retention.
“We’re in a serious nursing shortage and competition is increasing for nurses’ services among area hospitals,” Perkins said. “Maintaining Nyack’s competitiveness is an important part of ensuring that RN staffing remains stable.”