Hosps set stage for RN strike

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    for immediate release:

    Nurses at Flushing Fight to Regain what was Put Off in Bankruptcy -

    For the past six years, the 400 registered nurses at Flushing Hospital Medical Center have been making sacrifices to help the hospital work its way out of bankruptcy.

    Now that the hospital is financially stable, how does management show its appreciation? By demanding more givebacks.

    In 1999, when the hospital faced closure, the nurses agreed to changes in their contract that would enable the hospital to reduce operating costs. They were supposed to have three raises over the life of the contract they were negotiating, but they took only two in an effort to help the hospital get back on its feet. They also froze their experience scale for two years. Recognizing the hospital's dire situation, they gave back a personal day and two vacation days. In addition, changes in NYSNA Pension Fund costs saved the hospital $2,200 per nurse (x 400 nurses!)

    The nurses' concessions and the change in the pension plan rate saved the hospital more than $2 million and helped them get out of bankruptcy. Now the facility is owned by Jamaica Hospital and the money is available to restore everything that was put off in 1999. But management refuses. They won't even factor in the money they're getting from New York state that was meant to improve staffing.

    Instead, the hospital wants to continue to reduce the nurses' personal benefit time even further, make it more difficult for nurses to qualify for overtime pay, and loosen restrictions on floating! All this at a time when hospitals, especially this one, are already having trouble recruiting staff!

    Management also refuses to offer a salary package that would help the hospital become competitive for new hires, to increase the experience differential or offer retirement health benefits to retain veterans. Nor is management willing to make any salary increases retroactive.

    This hospital urgently needs recruitment and retention incentives.
    Out of frustration, the nurses held a session of informational picketing on June 10 and a community rally on July 9.

    They have not ruled out a strike vote.

    "We can try to negotiate for days but it still doesn't make a difference with this management team," said NYSNA Labor Representative Carol Lynn Esposito. She noted that at their most recent negotiation session on July 1, management's negotiators arrived nearly three hours late, were not prepared to negotiate, and refused to talk about anything but minor issues.

    "I've been here 30 years, and watching this happen is very sad," said Lynn Slitzan, bargaining unit chair. "The nurses feel disrespected, discouraged, disgusted and insulted. We made a number of concessions for the last contract because the hospital was in Chapter 11. Now all we want is to be made whole. That's not an unreasonable request. Nobody wants to strike - but we're being pushed."

    The RNs are represented by the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) - a constituent member of the American Nurses Association (ANA), founding member of the United American Nurses (UAN) - the union branch of the ANA - and affiliate of the AFL-CIO
    http://www.nysna.org >>>>>>>>
    Last edit by -jt on Aug 9, '02
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  3. by   -jt
    for immediate release:

    Long Dispute at Franklin Hospital
    by Mark Genovese
    The NYSNA Report

    The question about whether there would be a nurses union at Franklin Hospital Medical Center was answered a year ago with an overwhelming election victory for representation by the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA).

    But instead of negotiating a first contract, for several months management acted as though the RN's union didn't exist.

    First they delayed the start of negotiations for the 250 RNs by nearly five months.

    Once talks started in late December, they made it difficult to schedule sessions, canceling dates and dragging out the time between each session. When the two parties actually sat across the table, management did everything it could to make talks unproductive.

    Determined to win their first contract, the nurses held together and put the pressure back on management - holding an informational picket on June 5 and planning additional job actions. But there were signs that the stalemate was finally about to break. As of the deadline for this edition of Report, Franklin management had finally offered considerable progress in negotiations and it appeared as though an agreement would be possible by late July.

    The nurses' goal during these negotiations was to improve staffing by encouraging veterans to stay, rather than leave for better - paying jobs elsewhere.

    "There are 25 vacancies in the hospital - which they can't currently fill. The hospital has indicated it is willing to hire an additional 16 full time equivalent nursing RN positions," said NYSNA Nursing Representative Tom Spina, "but with a salary and benefits package substantially below surrounding hospitals, this is an empty promise. Where do they think they're going to get the nurses?"

    The hospital had not given the nurses a pay raise in more than a year, and didn't have much of an offer on the table. "Our nurses can go a few miles down the road and earn $12,000 more per year. Yet many stay because they are dedicated to this community," added bargaining unit chair Kathleen Ruscito.

    [B]Before management would even begin to discuss any patient care or workplace issues, they demanded the nurses give up future sick time, going from 12 days per year to six. Before they would consider salary increases, they wanted to extend the nurses' work week from 36.25 hours to 37.5 hours.

    The hospital also tried to impose on the nurses a 13-shift flex schedule, up from its current 12, and reduce the number of available sick days from 12 to six.

    "Under management's plan, not only would we have been working more hours per week, we'd have a pay-increase so low that we wouldn't even break even," Ruscito said.

    "We weren't going to accept treatment like this."

    The RNs are represented by the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) - a constituent member of the American Nurses Association (ANA), founding member of the United American Nurses (UAN) - the union branch of the ANA - and affiliate of the AFL-CIO
    http://www.nysna.org >>>>>>>>
    Last edit by -jt on Aug 9, '02