NEW YORK NURSE: June 2011
by Mark Genovese
A contract with givebacks is not acceptable, said more than 150 registered nurses and supporters at Nathan Littauer Hospital during an exuberant informational picket in front of the Gloversville facility on June 2.
The RNs say they need a contract that supports their commitment to giving the best possible care to their patients. Yet after nearly eight months of negotiations, hospital management has refused to make improvements in working conditions that will help to recruit and retain nurses. The most-recent four-year contract for the 144 RNs expired on Dec. 31, 2010.
The RNs say the most critical issue is RN-to-patient staffing on high-volume or critical care units. The hospital’s emergency room now has 60 percent more beds since its expansion last year, yet hospital management continues to schedule the same number of staff. Management has refused the nurses’ request to bring back ward clerks in maternity and pediatrics, which has left many nurses with responsibility for the clerks’ duties.
“We’re making every effort to negotiate in good faith, but hospital management has said it won’t increase staffing,” said Nathan Littauer Emergency Nurse Charles Eschler. “Although management has recognized that two LPNs are needed in the extended care facility, they won’t actually hire them until this contract is settled.”
“The hospital has been in good financial condition for several years,” Eschler added. “Yet, management is demanding that RNs with 10 years or more of service give back four hours per month in sick pay, a giveback that would total almost $600,000 when taking into account all of the employees with 10 years of service over a four-year contract.”
The nurses hope the picket will encourage community support for their contract negotiations and lead to the settlement of a fair contract. In addition to the picket, the nurses’ campaign will include community outreach and advertising in local media.