Rikers Island Prison Nurses Protest Excessive Overtime
Picketing in front of facility Friday afternoon
QUEENS, NYC April 9, 2002 - Prison Health Services (PHS), which operates the health care facility at Rikers Island Prison, insists that forced overtime is not a problem for its registered nurse workforce. Yet the nurses say the facility is so short staffed that management regularly demands that RNs stay past their shifts.
The facility has been relying on nurses to volunteer to fill vacancies in its schedules. When no one volunteers, the nurses say management forces them to stay late, rather than seeking temporary help.
The nurses, represented by the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) have been trying through current contract negotiations to improve their working conditions. NYSNA has proposed that PHS cannot use forced overtime unless there is a vacancy that could not be prudently planned for. The association is also proposing that PHS pay more when it forces a nurse to work overtime, so that the added cost will serve as a disincentive.
NYSNA believes the use of forced overtime is dangerous to patients because it forces nurses to work when they are exhausted.
Moreover, mandatory overtime is unfair to nurses, who cannot say for sure when they will be able to go home to their families.
As a result, the nurses will be picketing on Friday, April 12 from noon to 2 p.m., at the corner of Hazen Street and 19th Avenue in Astoria. Prison Health Services is a private employer that operates health services at Rikers Island under contract from the City of New York.
The nurses have been working without a contract since December 31, 2001.
For more information, call Mark Genovese at NYSNA (518) 782-9400, Ext. 353.