NEW YORK NURSE: June 2010
by Randi Hoffman
On May 11, about 400 Montefiore Medical Center nurses rallied at the Moses Division in the Bronx. They picketed, sang and listened to speeches in front of the facility. They had been without a contract for 16 months.
Montefiore management is attempting to scale back the nurses’ health and pension benefits and is not enforcing agreed-upon staffing ratios.
“The nurses of Montefore Medical Center demonstrate a strong commitment to themselves and each other,” said Patricia DiLillo, bargaining unit president at Montefiore’s Weiler Division. “Montefiore is the most profitable hospital in New York state. How can they justify asking for benefit cuts and refusing to address staffing improvements to which they had previously agreed? The people of the Bronx and the nurses who care for them deserve better treatment.”
Montefiore nurses have been working without a contract since Jan. 15, 2009. Nurse per-patient ratios that were set 10 years ago are not being enforced, affecting the amount of time each patient is able to receive from the nurses. The nurses’ caseload has also been growing.
The Montefiore nurses circulated a flyer and boycotted National Nurses Week, May 6 to 13, by not accepting the food and gifts offered by the hospital.
At the picket the energy was high. The nurses sang “We need a contract” to the tune of “Under the Boardwalk.” In the speeches, the nurses stressed that they have the right to retire in dignity, and as caregivers themselves, they have the right to affordable health care.
“The nurses are adamant that their pension remain intact,” said Joy Rodney, a bargaining unit officer of the Montefiore Home Health Agency. “Montefiore is the only hospital in the Bronx in the black. They are doing very well financially. There is no excuse.”
On Dec. 15, 2009, more than 1,000 Montefiore RNs picketed in front of both the Weiler and Moses facilities, protesting management’s “cost-neutral” proposal of a contract. The nurses believed this proposal would drive many RNs into early retirement and lead to even more short staffing.
And more than a year ago, on April 6, 2009, Montefiore RNs picketed in the driving rain. They wanted shorter waiting times for patients in the emergency room and for the nurse to remain assigned to areas for which they had been trained.