NEW YORK NURSE: October 2010
by Mark Genovese
Meanwhile RNs at Benedictine Hospital are stepping up their fight for a fair first contract. Rather than settle for an inferior “parity” proposal offered by management, the Benedictine nurses’ negotiating committee decided to continue fighting for a compensation package that’s fair to all nurses, including retroactive compensation for the months they spent working for different base salaries and differentials.
Negotiating committee members remind Benedictine administrators of RNs’ invaluable contributions at both hospitals during every negotiating session, but have yet to see full recognition by management. NYSNA also continues to insist members have access to union representatives.
Despite management’s resistance, the committee is making progress and has already secured significant protections and benefits for Benedictine nurses, including an arbitration process, protest of assignment forms and labor/management meetings.
To support them, NYSNA has been working on a media campaign to increase community awareness. The campaign is intended to assure the community that it can count on registered professional nurses to provide excellent care despite the questionable decisions of the Health Alliance. The RNs are also conducting a community outreach campaign, which includes offering free blood-pressure screenings at a local shopping mall.
Benedictine nurses have been engaging residents of the Hudson Valley – asking them to sign a petition to support their efforts. More than 1,000 concerned citizens have signed already.
An area resident also submitted a letter to the editor of a local newspaper expressing her support. “The nurses are in desperate need of a negotiating body to bring their pay scale up to par with other local hospitals, improve working conditions and ensure fair decision making by their administration,” the letter said. “The New York State Nurses Association, a professional union, will benefit the nurses in our hospitals, and, ultimately, everyone in the community.”
“The RNs believe that until the Health Alliance shows them in good faith that they will put RNs and the patients they care for first, they will have no choice but to continue to expose the indecisiveness, lack of leadership and lack of planning that will eventually cause people in the community to go elsewhere for their healthcare needs,” said NYSNA Program Representative Janice Treanor.