RNs on strike

  1. UAN Nurses on STRIKE in NY

    RNs STRIKE at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center Strike

    Smithtown, Long Island, NY -

    Registered nurses of St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center (NY) filed notice on November 15 that they would strike at 7 a.m., Monday, November 26. The hospital did not come to an agreement with the RNs in the face of the 10 day strike countdown and so, at 7am, another RN strike for patient/nurse staffing, patient/nurse safety, and nurse recruitment, retention, and compensation began. Scabs have been brought in to staff the hospital which now has the best staffing it has ever had.

    The staff nurses striking at St Catherines of Siena Medical Center in Smithown, Long Island are represented by the 34,000-member New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) - a constituent member of the American Nurses Association (ANA) and founding member of the United American Nurses (UAN) - the labor arm of the ANA and affiliate of the AFL-CIO.

    Issues - at a glance:

    1. On November 19, a four-hour negotiation session was scheduled. With parties in attendance across the table from each other for just five minutes, no progress was recorded......

    2. Union leaders scheduled an afternoon rally for Sunday, November 25....

    3. Federal mediators scheduled a negotiation session for Sunday evening, November 25.......

    4. NYSNA represents 474 registered nurses at the center. Their most recent three-year contract expired May 15. Negotiations have been underway since April. They held a session of informational picketing on Oct. 19 to protest the hospital's lack of concern about improving working conditions.......

    5. The nurses, through contract negotiations, have attempted to solve the many problems with workplace conditions that have driven many veteran RNs to leave the facility, and discouraged new RNs from applying.

    Major Issues:

    * 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 at that time but fully expected to re-visit the issue when that contract expired last May......

    Hospital officials promised that they would do their best to maintain a safe staffing level. But staffing remains a problem, and is 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, etc., 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 rather than make the improvements that would attract nurses to come work at that facility or to retain nurses who do work at that facility.......

    * HEALTH BENEFITS - 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 sole right to discontinue flextime, with eight weeks notice, whenever it feels its nursing shortage has been corrected, leaving the nurses with no say or control in their workday lives. This would disrupt many facets of the nurse's life 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.......

    6. 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.

    7. In the United States, when employees believe their concerns are not being addressed they have a legally protected right to take action. The RNs in Smithtown, Long Island will remain on strike for as long as it takes.

    NYSNA | Current Collective Bargaining | St. Catherine of Siena Strike Countdown

    Contact Information | Press Releases

    NYSNA/UAN Registered Nurses Strike on Long Island

    Smithtown, LI, NY - November 27, 2001

    Nurses at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown went on strike yesterday, frustrated over being forced to work mandatory overtime and in seeking a new health plan.

    Some of the same issues now on the table almost doomed the sale of the hospital (then St. John's Episcopal Hospital) in February 2000, when nurses initially rejected and then grudgingly approved a contract that Catholic Health Services demanded before it would complete its deal to buy the struggling hospital and keep it open.

    "They asked us back then to give them a year," said Barbara Crane, a registered nurse at the hospital and president of the hospital's New York State Nurses Association unit, breaking into tears. "We gave them a year and a half, and this is where we end up? "

    The registered nurses, about 475 full-time and part-time nurses, represented by the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) had voted overwhelmingly to strike, and a bargaining session Sunday night failed to produce a last-minute agreement. The nurses have been working without a contract since May.

    Hospital officials said yesterday they had brought in more than 100 replacement nurses to staff the hospital and that no cutbacks in service are planned. Hospital president and chief executive Jim Wilson said the hospital had as many nurses working as would be normally needed to take care of the 200 patients staying there.

    "It's important for the community to know we are here and we are fully operational and we will continue to take care of their needs," he said.

    Both sides cite two areas as major sticking points in negotiations: the nurses' desire to leave the hospital's health plan for a New York State Nurses Association plan and their concern with mandatory overtime.

    As nurses walked the picket line yesterday, they expressed concern of routinely being told they would have to work extra hours after they finished eight- to 12-hour shifts to help fill holes in the schedule.

    "They're using it as a regular scheduling tool," said Dan Chamberlain, a long-time operating room nurse at the hospital and a member of the union negotiating team. "These floor nurses are getting killed."

    While Wilson acknowledged that the hospital does sometimes require mandatory overtime, he said that it accounts for no more than 4 percent of staffing over a typical two-week period.

    The problem, he said, is a national nursing shortage. "Recruiting registered nurses has become very, very difficult for every health care provider in the country," he said.

    CHS has hired 109 new nurses since taking over the hospital, but union representatives note that it has also lost more than 70 nurses since then. "What they don't understand is what it takes to keep a nurse," Crane said.

    Wilson said nurses left for a variety of reasons, including retirement and relocation. "It's not an excessive number given what's going on in the industry," he said.

    Wilson also said the overriding issue in the negotiations has been the nurses' wish to join a union-sponsored health plan.

    That plan would cost the hospital some $500,000 more annually he said.

    Crane said the nurses want to switch because the hospital has changed its benefit package several times and because the union plan may soon offer benefits that continue through retirement.

    It's not clear when the sides will meet again; no bargaining sessions are scheduled at this time.

    The nurses pledged to stay out as long as necessary.

    A bargaining session last night failed to produce any agreement between the two sides, which have been negotiating a new contract since March. The nurses, who number about 475, have been working without a contract since last May.

    "We're going to do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes", said Michael Chacon, the hospitals nursing representative from the New York State Nurses Association.

    About 300 nurses gathered yesterday morning in front of the hospital, which was bought in 1999 by Catholic Health Services. At that time, the nurses grudgingly approved a contract so that the deal could go through, with hopes of addressing issues such as understaffing when the contract expired in May.

    The nurses struck shortly after 7 a.m., hospital spokesperson Pat Stickle said this morning.

    Replacement nurses have been hired to take their place.

    Newsday.com - Strike at Smithtown Hospital >>>>>>

    -recv'd this from a nurse involved in the strike on Long Island:

    <<< Well, by now you have seen all the media coverage every major TV station covered this issue. Amazing coverage.
    Thanks to those that spoke for us.

    Tomorrow we are having a special TV channel 2 (CBS) media representative at 10 am. I would appreciate your attendance at that time. Also there is going to be a meeting at the Knights of Columbus at the junction of 347 and 454 (Vets highway) 6pm tomorrow night Tuesday.

    Another person I admire and respect sent me an email today regarding whether or not this is a democratic society. She felt that her opinion and the others like her who voted not to strike was disregarded by the majority and she was pulled along by the tide.

    My understanding of a democracy is just that, based on a majority, not by way of disregarding the individuals rights, but it is the expression of the majority of us that stems the tide of our way of life. This friend has lived through a strike and feels we left the "Patient" out in our equation.

    I had hoped we made it clear to all -


    Make a stand now or face extinction.

    In answer to her real concern about the patients welfare, we too were worried about what is happening to them (was that not the main topic of conversation on the line)? Today we all heard that for every four nurses that left the floor at 7am at least 6 came on duty. These scabs are not stupid, they won't work the way we do. They are being treated the way we wish we were.

    It is our strong belief if we don't make workplace improvements to make our profession a viable choice for the young amongst us, the patient really will be in serious peril because there won't even be scabs to care for them.

    Before I end for tonight, I want you all to know that Nancy Maggio, RN PerDiem Educator refused to cross the picket line today and has probably put her job in jeopardy as a result of her supporting us. Thank you Nancy I hope we don't lose you.

    Good night, I am beat.
    Barbara >>>>>>>>

    The Registered Nurses on strike at
    St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center
    in Smithtown, Long Island, NY
    will be featured on CBS
    The Early Show
    Thursday, November 29 at 7:48 a.m. (Eastern time)
  2. Visit -jt profile page

    About -jt

    Joined: Oct '00; Posts: 2,662; Likes: 46


  3. by   OC_An Khe
    Thanks for the info on this latest NYSNA fight for adequate staffing and other working conditions. By any chance do you have a link that would give information on the NLRB ruling about concerted action regarding voluntary OT? Did this occur during the contract or after it expired?
  4. by   -jt
    <By any chance do you have a link that would give information on the NLRB ruling about concerted action regarding voluntary OT?>

    I had it & Ive been looking for 20 minutes & cant find it. I wrote a long post here explaining the whole thing & then my connection was lost & I lost the post. And since I cant cut a long story short:

    The nurses were filling staffing holes by agreeing to requests that they work VOLUNTARY OT. The RNs were trying to help out & do what they could until the hospital hired more staff but with so many nurses reluctantly working OT, the hospital didnt have a need to hire anybody. It could just fill its holes by working the nurses to the bone when needed. And since the nurses were saying OK when asked to work OT, it was voluntary.

    The nurses were concerned that they were enabling the hospital to abuse them, that the hospital was using them to avoid facing the chronic short-staffing problem, & they expressed their concern over this in their local bargaining unit meeting. Their colleague, a staff nurse who is the chair (president) of their local bargaining unit suggested they all just say NO to volunatry OT. And they did. All of them.

    Suddenly the hospital had no staff for those hours. The hospital was livid. Since so many nurses were refusing to volunteer to work extra & that suggestion had been made by the nurse who was the lead union delegate there, and there was a contract in effect, the hospital called it a "concerted effort" It filed charges with the NLRB for illegal union activity, the same as if the nurses had taken a job action & walked off their jobs. All because they no longer were VOLUNTEERING to work ot.

    The hospital was trying to FORCE the nurses to volunteer for
    ot. Incredible? You havent heard the half of it!

    In a recent decision, the NLRB AGREED with the hospital & held the union accountable for illegal activity. The NLRB said that the nurses deciding not to volunteer for overtime was the equivalent of a STRIKE! And an ILLEGAL STRIKE because no 10 day notice was given to the hospital. Imagine that! LUDICROUS.

    Imagine your employer says: YOU CANT REFUSE TO VOLUNTEER FOR OT!! If you all dont volunteer, thats the same as striking! And we'll sue you because you didnt give us a strike notice!!!!"

    Youd laugh at the employer right? (well I would) but then you get the shock of your life when you get into court & the powers that be AGREE with your hallucinating employer!!

    This is ridiculous but its what just happened. The NLRB has stated that nurses can decide together to refuse to volunteer for ot but have to give a 10 day strike notice first. What is the meaning of the word VOLUNTEER anyway? Doesnt have to do with making your own choice?

    Oh well, this backwards NLRB decision in NYC was even being talked about last month in Las Vegas last month - where nurses there had heard about it. Its the "decision" heard across the country. Weeks before their real strike this month, nurses at St Catherines of Siena, Long Island, became the first in the nation to file a 10 day notice that they would no longer choose to volunteer for overtime.

    In the meantime, this is not the end of this.

    For more info & articles contact the email address on the website:
  5. by   -jt
    NYSNA/UAN nurses at St Catherines on Long Island, NY and.......

    on the verge in Michigan.......

    Forced OT, Wages and Benefits, Staffing Issues Drive Strike Vote at Sparrow

    Health care professionals at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Michigan, today over whelmingly authorized a strike if negotiations do not move forward. Negotiations sessions with a mediator are scheduled for Nov. 27. The Michigan Nurses Association/UAN represents nearly 1,800 registered nurses, medical technicians, physical therapists, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals at the facility.

    Negotiations continuing with Sparrow Hospital
    Wednesday, November 28, 8:00 a.m.

    The Michigan Nurses Association bargaining team, representing the nearly 1,800 registered nurses, medical technologists, physical therapists, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals, met into the night with Sparrow's management.

    An agreement has not been reached, but significant progress was made last evening. Both sides are hopeful that an agreement can be reached today. The bargaining teams will reconvene on this afternoon.

    The major issues in the negotiations continue to be:

    * Mandatory overtime: Healthcare professionals have critical
    judgment skills and must be able to exercise these skills in making a decision to accept an additional shift. Mandatory overtime as a staffing practice must be eliminated.

    * Floating: Floating is the practice of moving nurses to different units of the hospital, as the need arises. However, registered nurses, when temporarily assigned to a different unit, must be competent to provide safe patient care in that unit.

    * Wages: To maintain its Top 100 status, Sparrow Hospital needs to recruit and retain the best in healthcare workers. The salary scale now focuses on the recruitment of new nurses and other healthcare workers, but fails to adequately address the hospital's retention problem. For example, nearly half of all Sparrow registered nurses have less than five years experience.

    * Retirement benefits: Retirement benefits have eroded over the last few years. As patient stays have been reduced, and patient acuity levels have increased, benefits to retain skilled, experienced professionals are critical to patient care.

    * Health and safety issues: Workplace issues such as latex
    allergies, back injuries and violence are also greatly impacting the healthcare workforce. MNA has several proposals on the table to minimize the impact of these concerns.

    For more information,

    Welcome to UAN - The Union for Nurses, by Nurses
  6. by   -jt
    The Registered Nurses on strike at
    St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center
    in Smithtown, Long Island, NY
    will be featured on CBS
    The Early Show
    Thursday, November 29 at 7:48 a.m. (Eastern time)
  7. by   mopsi
    There it is again........What's with the ...REPLACEMENT NURSES.....I just posted on Scab Nurses...People ...we must stick together.....Shame on the REPLACEMENT NURSES...... Good luck to those with the fortitude to strike..I'll try to catch the show if I can get off this addictive site....
  8. by   OC_An Khe
    Lets see if I understand this Catch 22 NLRB ruling. The RNs that actually filed a 10 day notice of refusing voluntary OT were working without a contract.
    So if the contract was in effect, and had the usual no strike/no lock out language the RNs couldn't refuse voluntary OT because that would be an illegal strike because CBA in effect. But if the Union doesn't tell them to refuse Voluntary OT its then not a concerted effort and they can refuse the OT.
  9. by   -jt
    <So if the contract was in effect, and had the usual no strike/no lock out language the RNs couldn't refuse voluntary OT because that would be an illegal strike because CBA in effect. But if the Union doesn't tell them to refuse Voluntary OT its then not a concerted effort and they can refuse the OT.>

    That NLRB decision has got us stumped too. Shocked was the word, actually.

    It appears that the reason why the NLRB said it was a "concerted effort" ie: STRIKE - was because they ALL refused to volunteer & they all refused to volunteer EVERY time they were asked to. The NLRB viewed that to be the same as a sick-out or a walk-out.... even though they hadnt walked out on their jobs - just on VOLUNTARY ot. The big thing for the NLRB was that there was no 10 day notice given before the nurses "walked-out" on volunteering. Thats why the union was cited for illegal activity - it did not serve a 10 day strike notice informing the hospital that the nurses would not be volunteering for ot. NLRB said nurses could refuse to volunteer but only after giving a 10 day notice because the refusal to VOLUNTEER is the same (according to the NLRB) as a strike, & must follow the same legal requirements as with a strike.

    Hard to believe, isnt it?

    The NLRB made no distinction that it was VOLUNTARY ot the nurses were refusing to work & not their regular jobs. (That amazes me every time I say it!) Last I knew, the word "voluntary" means you can decide whether you want to or not. The NLRB apparently doesnt see it that way.

    Its not only because of the contract being in effect. It was because they ALL declined the OT EVERY time they were asked to do it & HAD NOT GIVEN A 10 DAY NOTICE that they would be declining.

    In a strike, whether the contract is in effect or not you still must give a 10 day notice that there will be a strike. Our contracts specifically state we will not strike during the life of the contract. Some unions do not operate that way & might walk out mid-contract. Either way, you cant just walk out. There has to be a 10 day notice. The union, however, never considered there to even be a strike. There was no vote on a strike, no intent to strike, & nobody regarded themselves to be striking. So why in the world should they think to serve a strike notice when they werent going on strike?? They didnt.

    But incredulously, the NLRB decided that everyone refusing to VOLUNTEER to work ot WAS a strike & it said the union was guilty of illegal activity because it didnt give a 10 day strike notice!

    In my mind, when you are ASKED to do something, rather than being TOLD to do it, you have the choice to say no. The NLRB disregarded that little detail and viewed the nurses' refusal to volunteer for ot as the equivalent of a walk-out without giving notice (which is illegal activity whether there is a contract in effect or not).

    For us, when our contract is in effect, walk-outs are illegal. When a contract is expired, these are not illegal activities but ONLY if a 10 day notice is given to the employer first. There was no 10 day notice because the nurses werent taking any job action and the union wasnt leading any strike. The nurses were just exercising their right to choose not to volunteer for overtime.

    The union didnt tell the RNs to refuse OT. The nurses decided amongst themselves that they werent going to do anymore OT because that was letting the hospital avoid hiring needed staff. The union had nothing to do with their decision. The RNs had the discussion with each other at a bargaining unit meeting over the issue. The union was charged with illegal activity because the NLRB decided it was a strike, no 10 day notice was given, and because the person who made the suggestion to do it wasnt just a staff nurse, she was also the bargaining unit chairperson for the nurses at her hospital, therefore an extension of the union authority (some may call her position "shop steward"). The argument was that the union, through the bargaining unit chair, conducted an illegal strike (illegal because there was no notice given). That was news to the nurses because they never voted to strike, the union wasnt conducting a strike, and everybody was at work.

    You know how it goes..... we're sitting around having coffee & griping about how theres not enough staff, I say to you "well why should they hire any more staff when they got us to fill in. I myself did 8 hrs of OT last week." You say "yeah and I worked 3 extra days OT this pay period". And Mary says "I stayed till 11pm 2 times this week". Then Nancy (the bargaining unit chair aka "shop steward") says "so they dont see the real need & true picture because we're picking up the slack. If we just stop volunteering to fill the holes, it will show how much staff is really needed. No big deal - Its our choice, right? Its voluntary - not MANDATORY - so we can choose to work it or not to work it. Lets just say NO next time we're asked. "
    So we all look at each other & agree we arent volunteering for anymore OT this month.

    The NLRB called that a Strike

    and charged the union with illegal activity for not giving strike notice. With that, the jaws of union nurses across the country hit the floor. Its a really unbelievable interpretation that the NLRB made here. Bad enough lots of nurses still have mandatory ot forced on them but now we even have VOLUNTARY ot forced on us???.... unless we inform the hospital with a 10 day strike notice that we arent available for ot. Amazing.

    An article was published by the Bureau of National Affairs in its "Legal News", Vol. 15, No. 33. Additionally, the NLRB website (http://www.nlrb.gov) has a copy of the decision:

    Last edit by -jt on Nov 30, '01
  10. by   mopsi
    Jeeze....It's seems to me we need to start getting our CEU's in LAW..Being able to descibe wounds or describe signs of child abuse seem secondary to being able to survive against the corporate giants and their force of slick attorneys.....
  11. by   -jt
    youre so right.

    The thing that is really galling is that the hospital brought this charge against its nurses because they wouldnt volunteer to bear the burden of the hospital's own mismanagement. The hospital refused to hire additional needed staff & then went full guns after its own nurses for refusing to voluntarily clean up the mess it made itself. If the hospital had put half the effort into investing in its own nursing workforce & correcting the workplace problems that it put into going after these charges, it might not have such a shortage of nurses who are willing to work there.

    Its hospitals behavior is despicable. To continuously & knowingly schedule staffing holes, do nothing to address those staffing holes, make no attempt to correct the problem & then feverently seek to legally punish the nurses for not being willing to voluntarily bail the hospital out of the hole it dug itself into is the ultimate of arrogance.

    Because of this NLRB decision, the nurses at St Catherines of Siena on Long Island did serve a notice that they would no longer volunteer for OT. That was weeks ago. Youd think the hospital would get the message? Well, rather than work with the nurses to improve conditions for them to work in & step up recruiting/retention initiatives to fill their scheduling holes, the hospital chose to force them to strike this month.
    Then it hired scabs.

    Really makes you wonder how they can say they value & respect their nurses at the same time they are taking these actions against their nurses. The word "propaganda" comes to mind.

    CBS News interviewed RNs on the strike line in Smithtown, Long Island Tuesday morning, November 27. The report is scheduled for broadcast on CBS News' The Early Show on Tuesday, December 4, 7:38 A.M.

    A Strike Rally will be held at 50 Rte. 25A in Smithtown, Saturday, December 1 from 11:00 A.M. to 12:30 P.M. Featured speakers include NYSNA President Robert Piemonte and Economic and General Welfare Director Lorraine Seidel, representatives from the UAN and other labor organizations, and entertainment (!) from the ICU nurses from New Jersey's St. Barnabas Hospital.

    Latest developments, news reports, media coverage:

    NYSNA | Current Collective Bargaining | St. Catherine of Siena STRIKE

  12. by   RNPD
    "Recruiting registered nurses has become very, very difficult for every health care provider in the country," (Wilson) said. ~St Cath's Pres, Jim Wilson

    "Hospital officials said yesterday they had brought in more than 100 replacement nurses to staff the hospital and that no cutbacks in service are planned."


    Isn't it strange that these 2 statements can co-exist? Funny that for a hospital that is finding it "very, very difficult" to recruit nurses, they were able to recruit over 100 scabs in only 10 days when they were willing to pay the price for them. Goes to prove once again-there is no shortage of RNs in this country, only a shortage of RNs willing to work in a hospital, under the current conditions and with the current compensation offered.
    Last edit by RNPD on Nov 30, '01
  13. by   -jt
    Funny that for a hospital that is finding it "very, very difficult" to recruit nurses, they were able to recruit over 100 scabs in only 10 days when they were willing to pay the price for them. Goes to prove once again-there is no shortage of RNs in this country, only a shortage of RNs willing to work in a hospital, under the current conditions and with the current compensation offered.

    Couldnt be more true. Remember these nurses agreed to give-backs in their prior contract in order to save the hospital from closing & allowed the sale to another facility to go thru. This is what got as a way of thanks from their administration.......
    I received this today from a nurse on strike at that hospital:


    Today the Times of Smithtown, St. James and Nesconset ran a letter on pg. 63, regarding our strike. It was written by a Mr. Joseph Latini, Exec. Loan Officer from Hartford funding.

    In short what he said was, Mandatory OT should go away, and that we should not force the hospital to spend $500,000 /yr for essentially the same health benefits we have now.

    I quote, "..... it serves to do nothing more than allow the union a tighter grip over the already fiscally stangulated hospital. This is just the type of negligent expenditure that caused the rapid demise of St. John's Hospital. ....Let us not forget the CHS saved the hospital from closing because they are proven to be extremely competent healthcare managers."

    Now you all know I can't let that go unchallenged, so I sent the following to the Editor.

    To whom it may concern;

    I am responding to the letter written by Joseph A. Latini Jr., regarding the nurses on strike at St. Catherine of Siena. Although I appreciate Mr. Latini's sensitivity to the issue of mandatory overtime I believe he is very misinformed about a few key issues.
    We are asking for the NYSNA medical plan for several reasons;
    CHS is a self insured employer, which means they can and have changed
    the coverage three times since they took over and have increased the cost
    of prescriptions by 33%. without union input.
    Most importantly the NYSNA medical plan is currently working on providing medical retirement benefits for our nurses. Which do not exist in the private sector of health care to my knowledge.

    I am one of the more fortunate nurses to sit at the negotiation table with CHS. I am also very confused about some of the issues. Each time we sat down with management the cost of the NYSNA plan changed. Mr. Wilson sent a letter to the entire staff and stated the plan would cost $250,000.00/yr. In his latest press release he said it is $500,000.00 so which is it Mr. Wilson, let the public know the truth. Next week it will be a million.

    Let them know how you can look them in the eye when you deliberately mislead them with this gross distortion of the truth.
    Let them know NYSNA offered ways to reduce this cost for you.
    Tell them how CHS even said the "NYSNA plan was a better one," and that the rest of the employees would all want in.

    Mr. Latini seems to think "the health coverage is virtually no change in service". Not true is it Mr. Wilson?

    Tell them how we agreed to take less than 3% raise in the last year to help fund this plan.

    Tell them how we offered to increase the contribution by our part time members to offset the costs.

    Tell them how we offered to allow an opt out clause to encourage people to not take the plan, thereby reducing the cost to management. You see, right now 60 nurses opt out of the CHS plan for $1000.00/yr. Our plan is so good the hospital now assumes those 60 will want back in and hence Mr. Latini, is where the cost difference comes from. With an attractive opt out that cost almost goes away.

    Let them know how you just spent over $500,000.00 on nurses from all over the country to come and take care of their family and neighbors and you didn't think that the women and men that saved and served their community hospital were worth that same sum to safe guard their retirement.

    I wonder if the public was even aware that after retiring from the medical field after 20, 25 or 35 years that all nurses that work for CHS walk away empty handed. No medical benefits even as a bridge to Medicare.

    We spend our careers taking care of the health needs of an entire community and retire with our own health needs in jeopardy. This, Mr. Latini, is the single biggest reason to acquire the NYSNA plan.

    CHS has said openly at the table, "We are not interested in nurses retiring, there is a shortage you know." What would they say then to this aging population of men and women, "grease up your walkers and grab the support hose, we are in for the long haul"?

    I wonder why the nurses on the hill would not agree with Mr. Latini when he stated, "CHS saved the hospital from closing because they are proven to be extremely competent healthcare managers." And in the same letter he states that the "hospital is fiscally strangulated." Surely not by those "competent healthcare managers," the 1700 employees know it had more to do with the fact that we all lost everything and CHS walked in debt free and had absolutely no regard for the dedicated staff that stayed and pulled this organization out of the hole that promised to consume it. Competency is in question when you are fortunate enough to hire 109 nurses in 16 months and allow over 70 to quit do to poor management and horrific working conditions. Seems like that bit of "competent business management", cost about $350,000.00 over the last 16 months.

    Is it wrong to want for ourselves that which we provide everyday of our professional careers to the people of the communities we serve. Can you tell me why any religious organization could want to deny all their employees this basic human need?

    Come on CHS, come back to the table, it is time to practice what you preach.


    Barbara Crane, RN
    President of NYSNA Bargaining Unit at
    St. Catherine of Siena Hospital
    email: BC512RN@aol.com
    Last edit by -jt on Dec 2, '01
  14. by   -jt
    from the striking nurses in NY.....

    <<Hi Julie,

    You can post our updates any where you think they might help please feel free to include my email address. I would love to hear the comments. (send letters of support to the striking nurses on Long Island to BC512RN@AOL.com).

    I appreciate the strong words of support....

    I know we are seeing a new era in our profession and we need to keep the spirits high. The nurses here have been empowered with a strength they never realized they had.

    They have banded together and taken to the road and found jobs everywhere from Macys to big trauma centers. Many have been here 25 yrs + and have never taken a risk in their professional lives. This experience has shown them what our employers never wanted us to see that we
    are a valued, respected and vital profession that will no longer tolerate the injustices of a healthcare system bent on profit instead of patient care.

    A wonderful nursing educator I met recently said it simply, that what is good for the nurse is good for the patient. Nurses are patient driven and Healthcare providers are bottom line driven. Who do you want in charge of your care?
    I hope to meet you one day soon. I believe if enough of us join hands and voices they can't help but hear us.

    As for the updates, they are one of the best tools I have to keep everyone on the same page. To date I send about 240 per day and they get faxed and phoned to those that don't have Internet access..... I believe strongly that information is power, and it belongs to everyone that wants it.

    If you lose someone to the enemy nine times out of ten they didn't have the information they needed to be feel part of this action. We also have open negotiations, any member can come and listen any time. That de-mystified the entire process for them. It also helped turn a resistant group in the RR around to see the bigger picture. At negotiations during the breaks we explained what was going on, we shared our documents and took suggestions from anyone with an idea that might help. They went back to the hospital as our ambassadors of good will, Talk about Win-Win. We really hit a home run with
    these negotiations.

    I give all the credit to an amazing team, Tom Darby & Mike Chacon (NYSNA). They differed enough to give us a balance of opinion and a winning strategy.

    As we sat on the hill in front of our facility, we were greeted by a beautiful sunny day and realized what an amazing set of circumstances have put us in the street with such cooperative weather. 74 degrees and one hell of a turnout.

    Bye for now, and thanks again, and thank your coworkers for that beautiful weather.


    Barbara Crane, RN
    President of NYSNA
    Bargaining Unit at St. Catherine of Siena Hospital

    email: BC512RN@AOL.com