<<For Immediate Release
Nurses at Presbyterian Approve Breakthrough Contract -
New York City, Dec. 21, 2001
-- Registered nurses at Presbyterian Medical Center overwhelmingly approved a three-year contract Thursday that provides safe staffing guarantees, health coverage upon retirement, and breakthrough base salaries that will exceed $60,000 - the highest in city. The 1,600 RNs are represented by the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA). Their most recent two-year contract was due to expire on Dec. 31.
"This contract gives RNs at Presbyterian the best contract in the city,' said Donna Verry, NYSNA nursing representative. "It shows that after several years of rocky relations, there was a real effort on the hospital's part to address the nursing shortage and make Columbia-Presbyterian an attractive place for RNs to work." The agreement includes:
*Safe staffing guarantees -
A mechanism to allow the nurses to enforce unit-by-unit, shift-by-shift guidelines for safe RN staffing will be expanded throughout the entire hospital. Under their most recent contract, this enforceability provision was in effect in only one area of the hospital. Guidelines can be enforced through grievance and third-party arbitration if they are not implemented by hospital management. A full-time labor -management committee will also be established to continuously monitor staffing levels and staffing related problems.
*Retiree health -
Recognizing that health care coverage is an important issue for veteran registered nurses, this contract will provide retiring RNs with up to $2,500 each year tax free to cover the cost of purchasing health insurance.
The nurses will receive a 12% salary increase over the life of the contract. The base rate for staff nurses will increase from its current $48,500 to $60,570 in the contract's final year. RNs will also receive a retention bonus equal to 1% of their salary in the contract's third year.
*Additional compensation -
The cap on the experience differential was raised from $25,000 after 29 years to $29,000 after 32 years,
- the differential for working the evening and night shifts was raised from $5,400 per year to $6,000 per year.
- Experienced RNs who also mentor orientees - called preceptors - will also receive a raise in their pay for such duties.
Continuing education -
Recognizing the need to help RNs keep their job skills current, the contract increases tuition reimbursement from 15 credits and $6,000 per year to 18 credits and $10,000 per year.
sick time -
The contract also increases the amount of time an RN is eligible to take as sick leave, and provides for additional labor-management committees to work on other workplace issues.
This contract reflects a dramatic change in the status of labor management relations at the facility. It was negotiated in just 12 sessions and completed before the expiration of the current agreement - something that has not happened in the last 20 years. Just two years ago, the nurses were just minutes away from striking because of disagreements on staffing issues.
"The hospital understands the need to maintain communication between management and the nurses is ongoing," Ms. Verry said. "Thanks to the collective effort of the nurses, management now recognizes its obligation to provide for appropriate nurse staffing and safe patient care."
With more than 33,000 members, NYSNA is the leading organization for registered nurses in New York state and is one of the largest representatives of RNs for collective bargaining in the nation. A multi-purpose organization, constituent member of the American Nurses Association and founding member of the United American Nurses/AFL-CIO - the national RN union branch of the ANA - NYSNA works to improve the standard for nurses economic and general welfare through collective bargaining, fosters high standards for nursing education and practice and works to advance the profession through legislative activity. For more information, call Mark Genovese at NYSNA: 518.782.9400, ext. 353. >>