NEW YORK NURSE: June/July 2012
by Mark Genovese
Kingsbrook RNs voted 94-7 to ratify a new contract – the first one with NYSNA’s new “no-cost” benefit option.
After pressure from thousands of members and advocacy by the NYSNA member trustees, the employer trustees of the NYSNA Benefit Fund agreed to develop a new no-cost plan with a zero contribution rate. That was a big victory after the terrible 2011 arbitration decision, which had mandated that every nurse in the plan had to pay for their healthcare benefits.
The Kingsbrook nurses also won 14 new RN positions – bringing them up to a staffing ratio of 1:6 in most, but not all, med/surg units.
When Interfaith Medical Center proposed cutting staffing levels, nurses said “No way” and geared up to picket the hospital—and it worked.
Nurses have won a renewed commitment to safe staffing at the Brooklyn hospital, working past midnight to win an agreement.
Earlier this year, management proposed cutting staffing levels from one nurse on duty for every six patients, to just one nurse for every eight. Under the new agreement, approved on April 2, management commits to maintain the staffing levels at one nurse to every six patients—the same as staffing levels at other Brooklyn hospitals like Methodist and Maimonides. Nurses’ pay remains competitive with other Brooklyn hospitals.
“We take care of patients in some of Brooklyn’s poorest neighborhoods,” said Interfaith nurse Sharon Bedford. “The hospital’s renewed commitment to staffing levels will help ensure a high quality of patient care in our community.”
A new three-year contract, ratified on May 21, includes provisions to address members’ concerns about staffing and safety at this facility in Sullivan County. The contract’s new workplace violence language requires the employer to provide personal “call for help” devices, which will instantly notify a monitoring company to contact 911. Training will now be required before an RN can be assigned as a preceptor. Retiring members will be able participate in the medical center’s health insurance plans for three years prior to Medicare eligibility, provided retirees pays the full premium cost. The contract will place limits on floating and provide wage increases of 2.25% for 2012, 2% in 2013, and 2.25% in 2014.
The 25 NYSNA members at these Springville facilities won their year-long fight for a fair contract.
Ratified by members on March 22, the new three-year contract includes two separate benefit packages. Package A is for RNs hired prior to May 15, 2011. Package B is for RNs hired after that date. The packages differ on allocation of wage increases, in exchange for a reduction in eligibility for holidays, calculation for vacation time, and sick time.
Under Package A there would be 3% wage increases in both May 2012 and 2013, and no increase for 2014. RNs under Package B would receive a 4% increase in May 2012, 3% in May 14, 2013, and 2% in 2014. NYSNA members hired prior to May 15, 2011, may opt into Package B. RNs who have earned a bachelor’s degree will receive an additional $1 per hour. Differentials for certifications were also increased.
The contract also includes provisions for bonus pay if a surgical team is assembled outside of the normal operating room hours. A labor/management committee will also be created to meet quarterly. The contract runs through May 15, 2014.
The opportunity to make 12-hour shifts available to more RNs was included in a new two-year contract for 151 RNs who work at the Rikers Island Correctional Facility. Approved on March 22, the contract retains the RNs pension plan and provides the best plan for health coverage under the NYSNA Benefits Fund, Option “A.” RNs will receive a base salary increase of 2% for 2012 – including per-diems – and a $500 cash bonus upon ratification. The contract also includes provisions for improving non-discrimination language, employment security, and workplace safety. The RNs also won the right for an additional nurse to be released from duties for the next round of negotiations, for a total of three.