Nurses on Strike



    Jeff Rossen's Report which aired on the CBS Morning News can be seen on video at the CBS News website:


    Update From the St Catherines Nurses on Strike:

    <<<I just want to tell you that Nurses all across the country are writing to express their feelings toward what we are trying to do here at SCS - namely speaking out for our patients and our profession.

    The following emails came today from our NYSNA headquarters as part of the mail they are receiving from around the country from nurses championing our cause, read on:

    **I have written a letter to the Smithtown Messenger and Bill O'Reilly at Fox
    News. I will write one to each of the other newspaper listed. This is an
    excellent site for info, I will continue to monitor it for ways that I can
    help and encourage my fellow TEXAS Nurses to do the same.
    Hang in there, we are behind you all the way.
    Paula Perry RN

    **Dearest colleagues,
    I wish you all of the best in your pursuit of fair treatment. May God be with you in your struggle. As a nurse for almost 15 years, I can easily appreciate your plight. Stay the course. There are so many of us out here who are pulling for you.
    Enid Kreiner, RNC

    **As a fellow RN I understand and appreciate all you are fighting for. I want to wish you all the best. I hope and pray you all continue to stick together. I feel the RNs of St. Catherine's are wonderful. I recently gave birth to a beautiful baby boy in Sept and we both recovered wonderfully, thanks to the NURSING STAFF.
    Good luck with the negotiations on Tues.12/11. You are in our prayers.
    Jessica Dempsey, RN

    What more can I say, but Good Night,


    more to come.
    Last edit by -jt on Dec 11, '01
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  3. by   -jt
    Suffolk Life News

    St. Catherine Nurses Walk-Out

    December 05, 2001

    Nurses at St. Catherine of Sienna Medical Center walked off the job last Monday after talks broke down the previous evening

    Despite an eleventh-hour meeting between management and union representatives, the 474 New York State Nurses Association employees of St. Catherine of Sienna Medical Center walked off the job last week after negotiations broke down on November 25. The nurses have been without a contract since May 1.

    "They had removed most of the things we had agreed to across the table," observed New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) representative Mike Chacon. "They tried to slap membership in the face with this offer."

    Management's offer proved a disappointment to 25-year nurse Barbara Crane. "I had hoped there would be some movement," Crane said. "But there was nothing. I want to go back to work, but I'm not compelled to do so. They want to starve us out."

    Both Chacon and Crane are of the opinion management is trying to break the union. "When they took over, they said 'give us a year and we'll make it better.' But they've made it worse."

    Replacing the striking nurses are day nurses hired from U. S. Nursing Corp. Although St. Catherine's has projected a $7 million loss for 2001, the agreement between the hospital and the Denver, Colorado based company calls for management to compensate for daily salaries, accommodations and meals. Management refused to disclose the exact amount of the daily expenditure, although a hospital spokesperson said it was "obviously expensive."

    NYSNA spokesperson Mark Genovese said if management wants to resolve the labor dispute they will need to deal with the issues of staffing, health care benefits and mandatory overtime. "We want no mandatory overtime unless there is an emergency," Genovese stated.

    Despite the void between the two sides, management claims they are willing to continue to negotiate in good faith but as of press time no new talks were scheduled
  4. by   -jt
    NY Newsday

    Striking Nurses Not Hurting for Jobs

    December 7, 2001

    Randi Stewart is on strike from St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown, but she's got as much work as she can handle. This week alone she expects to do stints at Stony Brook University Hospital, in a patient's home, at a skilled nursing facility and in Southside Hospital in Bay Shore.

    "The amount of work out there is amazing," said Stewart, a single mother of three kids and a 22-year veteran who has gotten her jobs through four nurse staffing agencies. "I figured I'd get a little taste of what's out there."

    In some ways, the 474 nurses at St. Catherine's couldn't have picked a better time to strike: a nationwide nursing shortage has put registered nurses in such demand that nursing agencies are dropping by the picket line to sign up recruits, offering bonuses for referrals or simply welcoming them and placing them as quickly as they can. Hospitals and other facilities also are hiring the nurses directly.

    "Personally, I have talked to at least four of them while I was walking the picket line," said Barbara Crane, the nurse who heads the New York State Nurses Association unit at St. Catherine's. "One guy came with his trunk full of applications and a pen for everyone to fill them out."

    While the demand means nurses can pay their bills, it also could drag out the strike because personal finances are less likely to force the nurses to compromise at the bargaining table.

    "If your financial obligation is covered then you can stay out as long as it takes," said nurse Vickie Herman, who said she is making more working through an agency than she did at St. Catherine's. "I know my bills are going to be paid."

    Jim Wilson, chief executive of St. Catherine's, said he wasn't surprised nurses are working elsewhere during the strike, given the shortage.

    "I think it clearly has the potential to cause the strike to go longer than what anyone would like the strike to go," Wilson said. "We're concerned about that."

    One reason nurses at Nyack Hospital in Rockland County managed to remain on strike for 151 days in late 1999 through 2000 was because of an abundance of nursing jobs elsewhere, said Mark Genovese, of NYSNA.

    Those nurses were striking over some of the same issues as the St. Catherine's nurses, who have been working without a contract since May. In Smithtown, both sides in the negotiations agree that the major sticking points have been mandatory overtime and the nurses' desire to switch to a union-sponsored health plan. With the next bargaining session scheduled for Tuesday,the nurses will have a candlelight vigil in front of the hospital tonight at 7.

    Hiring the striking nurses is somewhat of a delicate proposition for nursing agencies. They are struggling to recruit nurses but don't want to be seen as trying to steal them away, since they work with hospitals, including St. Catherine's, at other times. Still, the agencies snatch them up when they get the chance.

    "We'd be sitting here and all of a sudden 20 of them came in," said Peter O'Keeffe, vice president of operations for All Care Nursing Service in Melville. "I wouldn't turn them away, that's for sure."

    Nurses have come in groups to Stony Brook, said Patricia Gilbert, director of nurse recruitment and retention there. She said she is using the striking nurses only if they come through an agency, to not interfere with the strike. In January, she may hire them directly.

    "It would break my heart if St. Catherine's, because of a labor dispute, lost their valuable, wonderful nurses," Gilbert said. "But if the strike goes on for six, seven weeks and nurses want to come and work full time, I'm in the mix. I'm not going to turn them away so they can work at Mather or Brookhaven."

    Nurses predict some of them will wind up finding jobs that they will keep, though many, like Stewart, said they prefer to return to St. Catherine's.

    Nyack hospital lost about 80 of its 450 nurses by the time its strike was over, Genovese said.

    But Wilson said he hopes a fair contract can be negotiated. "We want all of our nurses to come back, every one of them. They are a vital part of what we do here."
  5. by   -jt

    Nurses On Strike At Saint Catherine's Hospital In Smithtown

    (Smithtown, Long Island-AP, November 26, 2001)-Nurses at Saint Catherines Hospital in Smithtown, Long Island are on strike. The nurses walked off the job at seven a.m. Picket lines are up. The nurses are protesting staffing problems that force them to work overtime........ (watch report -)

    Jeff Rossen's Report which aired on the CBS Morning News can be seen on video at the CBS website:

    NY TIMES article appeared in the paper on Nov 27, 2001

    Additional Media Coverage - continuing articles in:

    -Smithtown News
    -The Times of Smitown, St James, & Nesconset
    -Suffolk Life




    News 12, Long Island
    Channel 55, WLNY
    Channel 11, WPIX
    Channel 2, WCBS
  6. by   -jt
    NYSNA | St. Catherine's RNs Strike | How You Can Help
  7. by   -jt
    For Immediate Release:

    From the office of Congressman Gary Ackerman
    5th District - New York
    Queens, Nassau, Suffolk

    Ackerman Stands by Nurses of St. Catherine of Siena in Smithtown -

    U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Queens/L.I.) today voiced his strong support for the professional nursing staff of St. Catherine of Sienna Medical Center in Smithtown, Long Island.....

    On the brink of permanently closing its doors, Ackerman, on February 3, 2000, helped the nurses broker a last minute settlement that brought the hospital then called St. Johns Episcopalback to life from its near death experience. The deal solved the problem of exhaustive work schedules while at the same time allowed Catholic Health Services of Long Island (CHS) to purchase and save the bankrupt facility for $91 million..........

    "When CHS took over the hospital, we were assured that differences between the nurses and management would be resolved" Ackerman said. "I believe that the then-proposed solution put forth by the hospital was in good faith but unfortunately little has changed in the working conditions. I am concerned that the overworking of the nurses and exhaustively long shifts are endangering the safety of its the patients."........

    The Congressman noted his support of federal and state legislation that strictly limit the ability of health facilities to require mandatory overtime. "We must vigorously recruit and retain nurses to fill the gaps in our nursing shortage, which I know is felt strongly here at St. Catherines" Ackerman added........

    In addition, Ackerman urged the hospital to come up with an immediate plan to remedy the present situation so the nursing staff will have its concerns addressed and so that the hospital can enjoy the reputation it has had.
  8. by   -jt
    The Long Island Catholic News

    Nurses' strike begins second week
    St. Catherine of Siena administration, union waiting for talks

    Smithtown - As the nurses' strike at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center here entered its second week, hospital and union officials are waiting for negotiations to begin again.
    "The federal mediators have informed us that they scheduled another session for Tuesday morning, Dec. 11," said James Wilson, St. Catherine's president and chief executive officer.
    Hospital officials last met with representatives from the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), which represents about 475 striking nurses at St. Catherine's Nov. 25, the day before the strike, Mr. Wilson said.

    "Our primary concern is providing care to our patients and serving the community. We want to get our nurses back for this," Mr. Wilson said.
    He added that the hospital continues to provide the same level of care through replacement nurses. "The state department of health is in here every day checking to see that quality is maintained."
    Nurses had been working without a contract since May at the former St. John's Episcopal Hospital, which Catholic Health Services (CHS) acquired from the financially troubled Episcopal Health Services early in 2000.

    CHS, which consists of the Catholic hospitals and healthcare institutions in the Rockville Centre Diocese, named the newly Catholic hospital St. Catherine of Siena.
    The strike followed unsuccessful efforts by the nurses and the hospital to reach an agreement on several issues, particularly employee health insurance, staffing levels, and mandatory overtime.

    On Dec. 1, striking nurses held a rally outside the hospital. They were joined by local politicians and nurses from other hospitals, and other supporters.
    Anne Schott, a spokesperson for NYSNA, said that when CHS acquired the hospital, the nurses agreed to drop staffing guidelines temporarily until the new administration could address the hospital's financial troubles. But Mrs. Schott said the problem still exists.

    "Related to the understaffing is the problem of mandatory overtime," Ms. Schott said. Under mandatory overtime a supervisor can require a nurse already completing one shift to work an additional shift.
    "They are using that as a routine staffing tool," Ms. Schott asserted.

    Katherine Heaviside, a spokesperson for St. Catherine's, agreed that staffing is a problem but denied that the staffing levels endanger patient care.

    "We agree that mandatory overtime should be avoided, but the hospital needs to be able to use it as a last resort." She added that over a two-week pay period, only four percent of the overtime worked at the hospital is mandatory overtime.
    She contended that St. Catherine's is dealing with the staffing problems and has hired 110 nurses since CHS acquired the hospital. Although 70 nurses have also left, "some of that is due to retirement and relocation." The turnover, she said, has to be seen in the context of the hospital's size and the nursing shortage being faced by the whole country.

    "Early this year, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, a national accreditation agency, did a survey of St. Catherine's and gave the hospital a rating of 96," she said, placing St. Catherine's in the upper 17 percent of hospitals in the country.
  9. by   -jt
    The Registered Nurses at St Catherines of Siena Catholic Health Systems (CHS) on Long Island, NY have been on strike for 18 days because their employer refuses to address their serious concerns about short staffing, mandatory OT, retention and recruitment incentives (salaries and benefits) as well as other working conditions. The hospital claims it can't afford the improvements the nurses need to attract and retain
    nurses for staff nurse positions.
    The freedom of information act makes it possible to get copies of CHS' tax returns for '97, '98, '99. The nurses, as a union, obtained this information and released it. Take a close look at the figures and where the hospital's money is going. Look at the yearly raises and pensions the administration gave
    themselves! And these are the people telling the nurses they "can't afford" to improve workplace conditions or increased salaries or benefits for the nurses:

    List of officers & their Salaries (compensation), Contributions to benefits plans/deferred compensations (annuities/pensions), and Total annual compensation (total yearly salary):

    Ronald A....
    President F/T
    Salary - $90,000.oo
    Contributions to benefit plans/annuities - $ 0.00 Total annual salary - $90,000.oo...

    Salary - $800,200.oo
    Contributions to benefits plans/annuities - $225,706.oo
    Total annual salary - $1,025,906.oo.....

    Salary - $1,058,835.oo
    Contributions to benefits plans/annuities -
    Total Salary - $1,312,330.oo.....

    Donna OB.... Sr. VP F/T
    Salary - $26,250.00
    Contributions to benefits/annuities - 00.00
    Total Salary - 26,250.00......

    Salary - $298,177.00
    Contributions to benefits/annuities -$43,598.00
    Total salary - $341,775.00.....

    Salary - $382,367.00
    Contributions to benefits/annuities - $55,443.00
    Total Salary - $437,810.00.....

    Terrance Daly CFO 40%- part-time work
    Salary - $00.00...

    Salary - $148,000.00
    Contribution to benefits/annuities - $59,472.00
    Total Salary - $207,472.00...

    Salary - $213,330.00
    Contributions to benefits/annuities - $51,486.00
    Total Salary - $264,816.00...

    Martin Helldorger - position = "As Needed"
    Salary - $318,028.00
    Contributions to benefits/annuities - $23,707.00
    Total Salary (for an "as needed "position!) - $341,735.00......

    Alan Kertland - position = "As Needed"
    Salary - $150,000.00
    Contributions to benefits/annuities - $24,252.00
    Total Salary - $174,587.00

    How much do you get paid per diem? Over $100,000/yr? How much of a raise did you get last year? What % raise is it from $90,000 to $1,025,906.oo? Thats how much % of raise the hospital president got over just one year. What % raise is it from $207,472.00 to $264,816.00? Thats how much of a raise a part time administrator got. Administrator's explanations as to why they need high salaries is:


    Ohhhhhhhh reeeaaaaaallllllllyyyyyy????
    So they DO understand the concept after all!

    Well then, Whats good for the gander is good for the goose!
    Last edit by -jt on Jan 10, '02
  10. by   -jt
    Nurses will picket Catholic Health Services Job Fair, Thursday, January 10 from 10:00 A.M. - 4:00 P.M. at the Transforming Leadership Center, 100 Baylis Road, Melville, NY.

    St. Catherine's Nurses Reach Out to the Smithtown Community:

    In their most ambitious effort to date, striking registered nurses from St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center traveled throughout the Smithtown community the afternoon of Saturday, January 5, to inform the public about the serious patient care issues they are fighting to resolve.

    Teams of nurses visited several area shopping centers, distributing leaflets and talking to the public one-on-one about the strike issues. They also began circulating a petition asking the administrations of Catholic Health Service and St. Catherine of Siena to resume negotiations. Copies are available here online fyi:

    Basic Principles
    Caring for the Sick is a Sacred Trust
    Where Does the Money Go?
    Why are the St. Catherine of Siena Nurses on Strike?
  11. by   -jt
    The nurses are still awaiting management agreement on another negotiating session. Communication during negotiations has been difficult. At the December 11 session - the first since the strike began - management stormed out after 15 minutes, making a series of false accusations about the nurses' negotiation team. During two subsequent sessions, management refused to meet face-to-face.

    Management's negotiators said at the December 19 session that they would be willing to work all night at their next session to complete talks. But at the December 26 session, management again refused to negotiate.

    All parties have been attempting to schedule a session during the week of January 7, but no specifics have been confirmed.

    NYSNA staffers including Mike Chacon, Tom Darby, and Marilyn Bauer are on the line everyday and can be reached by phone - leave a voice mail message: 212.785.0157; extensions: Mike - 152, Tom - 126, and Marilyn - 116.

    The striking nurses have membership meetings every Tuesday from 6:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. at the Knights of Columbus Hall, Rtes. 347 and 454.

    Numerous activities were held throughout the holiday season, including candlelight walks, caroling, and attendance as a group at religious services. The events signified solidarity and support for St. Catherine's RNs.

    Congressman Ackerman Stands by Nurses of St. Catherine of Siena
  12. by   -jt
    St. Catherine of Siena Strike: Issues

    NYSNA Represented Nurses: 474
    Contract Expired: May 15

    Staffing - In June 1998, the hospital, then known as St. John's Episcopal, was cited by the state Health Department for numerous violations - including low RN staffing - after the death of a patient. After this incident, NYSNA fought to establish, and won, a set of unit-by-unit, shift-by-shift, RN-to-patient staffing guidelines that would ensure a safe staffing level.

    Within a year, because of complex administrative problems, St. John's faced bankruptcy. Catholic Health System of Long Island offered to buy the facility, but demanded the nurses surrender their staffing guidelines, threatening to close the hospital if they refused.

    In the interests of their patients and the community, the nurses reluctantly agreed to give up the guidelines. Hospital officials promised that they would do their best to maintain a safe staffing level. But staffing remains a problem, and why the nurses voted Nov. 13 and 14 to strike.

    Although the hospital is willing to consider reinstating a form of staffing guideline, it is not willing to enable nurses to enforce them through third-party arbitration. Such enforcement is a must if the nurses are to have the legal means to hold the hospital accountable.

    Mandatory overtime - A problem that is an outgrowth of short staffing, mandatory overtime fills vacant shifts when there are not enough RNs on staff. Typically, a nursing supervisor orders a nurse to work the next shift, or leaves the nurse with no choice but to "volunteer." Not only is this disruptive to the nurse's life, should the nurse have children in daycare, but working an additional eight-hour shift is exhausting and dangerous for patient care.

    The nurses want a provision stating the hospital will not require overtime except in an emergency. The hospital prefers to use such overtime as a regular staffing tool to fill vacancies.

    Health coverage - As a means of encouraging veteran nurses to stay at St. Catherine's, NYSNA is seeking to improve their health benefits plan. NYSNA is offering a plan that would be more financially stable and offer far better benefits than the hospital's current self insured plan. The NYSNA plan would also offer the nurses the option of retirement health insurance, which is not available through the hospital. Although the plan is competitively priced, the hospital has inflated the figures to say it is too expensive.

    12-Hour Shifts - Currently many RNs in specialty units are working "flextime" - a schedule of three days of 12-hour shifts. Not only does this schedule provide for greater continuity of patient care, it is attractive tool for recruiting nurses. The hospital is seeking the right to discontinue flextime with eight weeks notice, should the nursing shortage end. This would disrupt the lives of nurses and would lead to even more resignations.
    Refusal to Work Overtime
    St. Catherine's RNs were the first in the nation to officially refuse to volunteer for overtime last month. Under a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board, a union can call for such a concerted action if it serves a 10-day notice.

    Nurses Are Exercising Their Rights
    This is a time when our nation is recognizing the crucial role of all who serve the public, especially in health care. It is now more important than ever that our health care system be able to respond to emergencies and provide the necessary care.

    Yet the Medical Center continues to ignore nurses' concerns about safe staffing. In the United States, when employees believe their concerns are not being addressed they have a legally protected right to take action.

    From the grapevine:

    >>I had been at St. Charles recently. The nurses had said that they were told to prepare for a strike in Feb of 2002. That's when their contract is up. The supervisors there said that they, too, are kept informed of what is going on at St. Catherine's. They were told from the higher-ups that "the nurses at St. Cathie's will fold - they always do"!
    This is what they are counting on and why you guys have never gotten your planned agenda. But they are starting to get nervous because they didn't think you were going to last this long!! You guys are doing a great job in hanging tough.....>>
    Last edit by -jt on Jan 10, '02
  13. by   hadit
    I saw the size of the salaries and compensation being paid to the administration. I personally think salaries like that are outrageous especially when they claim they can't pay the nurses or afford to hire more. No wonder health care costs are through the roof.

    I did see something awhile back that if the typical factory workers wages had increased at the same rate the CEO's had they'd be making alot more money than they are. Wish I could recall the number but it was huge. Sounds like it isn't only health care the chiefs are doing better than the indians.
  14. by   -jt
    Disgraceful, isnt it?

    St Catherines is a mid-sized suburban community acute care hospital with 475 RNs on staff. The improvements they need in their contract would cost $500,000 per year. The hospital claims it cant afford it. HOWEVER, in the first 2 WEEKS of the strike, it had already shelled out over $600,000 to the scab agency just for nurse strike-breakers. They are now past their 5th week & the hospital will not come back to the table yet. I wonder if any of those businessmen with their fancy MBA degrees can do the math. The nurses are working.......elsewhere. I dont think those numbers-crunchers the hospital has on staff are though.

    Heres a letter that hits it right on the mark. It appeared in a local newspaper & was sent by an influential community leader:

    Striking for Wage Equality:

    I am glad Newsday covered the strike at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center ["Hospital: Strike Hasn't Hobbled Us," Dec. 22]. It is so easy to forget a strike when it is out of view.

    The article reminded me once again of the systemic acceptance of wage discrimination against women (and minorities). Think about our working and living in a "supply and demand" world. Why is it that these nurses are in such high demand, yet they must beg for wages and benefits?

    I think it is likely because they are in a profession dominated by women. Too many employers are still thinking of women as working for pin money. Yet studies have found that one-third of working women are single heads of households and half or more are contributing equally to their families' survival.

    When will employers accept this? When will supply and demand truly set the wages and not gender (or even race)? It is time for Albany to pass and sign into state law wage equality bills that really work. This is, after all, a human rights issue and, more importantly, a family issue.

    The governor's race is around the corner and so are thousands of voting women. (In fact the majority of the voting public is female.) It's time this issue was addressed.

    If the hospital isn't "hobbled" by the high cost of replacement nurses, then why not treat the striking nurses right in the first place?

    Kim Nowakowski
    East Islip, LI

    Editor's Note: The writer is vice president of Business and Professional Women of Deer Park.>>>>>>>
    Last edit by -jt on Jan 11, '02