NEW YORK NURSE: November/December 2011
by John A. Hamelin
Following an enthusiastic series of events throughout the fall, nurses at three of the largest private hospitals in the metropolitan New York region have cast votes in recent weeks to authorize strikes against Mt. Sinai Medical Center, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center and Montefiore Medical Center.
The registered nurses at all three hospitals have coordinated informational pickets to focus the attention on the importance of their health benefits, and to express their support and solidarity for their healthcare colleagues.
“Health insurance benefits are a top priority for nurses,” explains Michelle Green, a NYSNA bargaining representative. “As professionals dedicated to providing quality care to patients, they believe as a matter of respect and fairness that they should be assured of access to the same quality of healthcare services they help provide every day.”
Following a “Day of Action” that included informational pickets at not only Mt. Sinai and St. Luke’s-Roosevelt, but Staten Island University Hospital as well, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt RNs voted in early November to authorize a strike. “No one wants a strike, but nurses won’t accept proposals that hurt them and their families,” said Elaine Charpentier, the Nurses Association’s negotiator. “The hospital needs to realize this contract directly affects their ability to recruit and retain the world-class nurses needed at the hospital.”
Montefiore Medical Center nurses followed this event with a day of informational picketing on November 16 at both the Moses and Weiler facilities in the Bronx. “This highly profitable hospital must address our concerns about safe staffing for our patients,” said Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, president of the Moses division of the 2,700 member NYSNA unit.
“Like our colleagues at Mt. Sinai, Presbyterian (who recently announced approval of a contract extension) and St. Luke’s-Roosevelt, we are telling the hospitals they must address the needs of their nurses for improved staffing, and affordable health benefits for the nurses on the front lines of care for patients,” she added.
As happened at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt, RNs from Montefiore and Mt. Sinai announced strike authorizations on December 9. “The nurses at Mt. Sinai stand together with our colleagues at St. Luke's-Roosevelt, and Montefiore,” said Jacklynn Price, bargaining unit president at Mt. Sinai. “Our members give patients excellent care, and they need and deserve quality health benefits for themselves and their families.”
A tentative agreement at St. Luke’s was announced as this issue of New York Nurse went to press, and negotiation efforts at the other two facilities continue.