NEW YORK NURSE: May 2011
by Mark Genovese
NYSNA members at Benedictine Hospital in Kingston found an activity that builds bargaining unit unity and reminds management that they don’t have a fair contract yet: They go for a walk!
“Health walks” have become popular in workplaces the past few years. So the executive team at Benedictine decided earlier this spring to start one of their own and give the RNs a chance to network. Twice each week, they walk a loop between Benedictine and its sister facility, Kingston Hospital.
The RNs have been working with NYSNA for the past 28 months to negotiate a first contract. But management is doing all it can to prevent the nurses from completing negotiations, then blaming the delays on NYSNA. In negotiations, management has told the NYSNA team that provisions for mandatory membership and dues deduction would be included in the contract proposal. But during talks in late March, management’s representatives revealed that they do not intend to ever include them.
Management has engaged in anti-union campaigns at Benedictine, Kingston, and Nistel, which employs RNs from both hospitals. It’s canceled labor/management meetings, in order to avoid key issues and withhold information. It’s blocked members from being able to meet conveniently with NYSNA representatives without fear and intimidation.
The most disappointing aspect of the negotiations to date is the employer’s unwillingness to grant the association access to members in the workplace. Employers who maintain a professional relationship with the association normally allow NYSNA members to hold negotiation update meetings on their premises and allow association representatives to meet with members in non-patient care areas on their units.
“Some employers do this because they’re still in the mode of trying to get rid of the association,” said NYSNA Labor Representative Thomas Darby, “rather than realizing that it’s in their interest to use the association’s nursing practice expertise and rely on it as a reliable source accessing the needs of their RN employees.”