NEW YORK NURSE: November 2010
by Randi Hoffman
Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) and mayoral nurses and NYSNA staff marched up Broadway with a banner, chanting and distributing flyers to passersby on the afternoon of Tuesday, November 9. They then assembled on the steps of City Hall and rallied for a fair contract.
NYSNA had been pursuing a new contract with the city since well before the most recent pact expired in January 2010, and has continued to press administration during this past year through various activities.
All of the other unions, with the exception of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) and NYSNA, have received salary increases in their newly negotiated city contracts.
Once everyone was gathered at City Hall, a delegation of HHC executive council members and supporters from other unions went inside City Hall and handed over a “City Nurses Bill of Rights” signed by several thousand nurses. The “City Nurses Bill of Rights” states that nurses are entitled to treatment that is fair and equitable to other city workers, including similar pay and benefits increases.
Margarita Bradley, secretary/treasurer of the HHC Executive Committee, spoke to the crowd about how the city is disrespecting its hard-working nurses who care for the city’s neediest patients.
Two city council members, Julissa Ferreras, chair of the city council’s Committee on Women’s Affairs, and James Sanders, chair of the city council’s Committee on Civil Service and Labor, gave rousing, energetic speeches. Also attending in support of NYSNA nurses were representatives from the UFT Federation of Nurses, the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association, DC 37 AFSCME and the Doctor’s Council of SEIU, and other union leaders.
The rally also highlighted another injustice, the denial of “physically taxing” status to the HHC nurses and midwives. Being recognized as having physically taxing jobs would grant the nurses the same retirement benefits as other city workers with jobs classified as physically taxing. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) determined last July that NYC’s refusal to designate the jobs of nurses and midwives as physically taxing constitutes illegal gender discrimination. The EEOC has now referred the case to the U.S. Department of Justice for a possible lawsuit against the city.
Towards the end of the rally, Mayor Michael Bloomberg emerged from City Hall, but did not acknowledge the nurses. The crowd chanted “Contract! Contract!” to his back as he walked away.