Strikes Make the News

Nurses General Nursing


Shortage Spurs Nurses to Strike

AP Business

It was a scenario that nurse Linda Warino had come to dread: Too many patients. Not enough nurses. No volunteers to work overtime.

About once a week - and she only works three days a week - she said she was required to work beyond her 12-hour shift. It led her and her colleagues in Youngstown, Ohio, to walk off their hospital jobs in a demand for better conditions and pay. They have been on strike now for 31 days. (ONA/UAN)

Warino, a nurse for 28 years, said it wasn't just long hours or salary issues that prompted the 770 nurses at Youngstown's Forum Health hospital system to act. They feared patient care was suffering.

``Let's be real. In your 14th or 15th hour you are not as good as you are in your first, second or third hour,'' she said.

Dissatisfaction with pay and increasingly stressful work conditions, aggravated by a shortage of nurses at hospitals across the country, is spurring job actions and the formation of nurses' unions at more hospitals.

Minneapolis this week faced the threat of what was being called the largest such strike ever, involving 7,700 nurses at a dozen hospitals. Agreements were reached at five of the hospitals by Thursday, but 5,400 nurses at the remaining seven hospitals still were set to strike early Friday. (MNA/UAN)

The hospitals had recruited more than 3,000 replacement nurses, who were flying in from around the country.

``A strike of this size shows this isn't one woman with a gripe. It shows this is a very serious problem,'' said Cheryl Johnson, president of United American Nurses, which represents more than 100,000 nurses in 26 states. ``If nurses don't have safe and good working conditions, no one gets the kind of care they deserve.''

Across the country, there have been seven nursing strikes so far this year, and two are still under way. There were 10 last year and 21 in 1999. By comparison, there were just four strikes in 1995.

Last year, 19 percent of the country's 1.3 million hospital nurses were unionized, up from 17 percent in 1999 and 16 percent in 1990. The UAN is now campaigning to unionize nurses in 18 more hospital systems.

The increased union activity is coming at a time when hospital finances are being squeezed by lower reimbursements from both private and government insurers. A third of all hospitals operate at a loss, according to the American Hospital Association.

Hospital administrators acknowledged that nurses work very hard, and that the work is getting harder as the age of the average patient rises and the incidence of chronic and serious diseases, including AIDS (news - web sites), increases. At many hospitals, cutbacks mean not only fewer nurses but also less support staff for non-medical duties such as delivering meals.

Warino, in Youngstown, described her situation this way, ``There are less nurses on the unit so there is more stress. When I come home at night now I don't feel the same satisfaction I once did. Now I come home at night and hope I didn't make any mistakes.''

But hospital managers say there are scant funds for generous raises or for hiring more staff. Nurses' annual salaries range from an average $37,622 in Iowa to $55,296 in California.

The nationwide shortage at hospitals is occurring despite a 39 percent increase in the number of registered nurses nationwide in the last five years, to 2.74 million. More of these nurses - about two out of five - are choosing not to work in hospitals or nursing homes. They opt for easier, better-paying jobs at health maintenance organizations or pharmaceutical companies.

The Department of Health and Human Services (news - web sites) predicts a shortage of 400,000 nurses by 2020.

``How are unions going to solve the nursing shortage,'' asks Pamela Thompson, executive director of the American Organization of Nurse Executives, a division of the American Hospital Association. ``The hospital environment is tough, and unions are just a third voice entering when nurses and hospital executives should be working together to solve issues of patient care.''

Still, hospitals have anted up to keep nurses from striking or to lure them back when they have.

After striking for 49 days against the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. last year, the DCNA/UAN nurses forced the END of mandatory overtime and won a 15 percent raise over three years. A strike also ended mandatory overtime at St. John's Hospitals in Oxnard and Camarillo, Calif., where nurses won a 22 percent raise over three years and a greater voice in management.

A threatened strike prompted the elimination of mandatory overtime at Aliquippa Community Hospital in Pennsylvania. And nurses at Crouse Hospital in Syracuse, N.Y. won raises of between 21 and 40 percent. In Minneapolis, hospitals were agreeing this week to raises of as much as 19 percent over three years.

Union organizers contend that victories like these will improve work conditions and lure more nurses back into hospitals.

Still, Johnson concedes it isn't easy to get nurses to unionize. Hospitals actively discourage organization, she said, and nurses don't want to do anything that could be perceived as hindering patient care.

At Shore Memorial Hospital in Somers Point, N.J., the vote among its 403 nurses to unionize won by just 29 votes. (NYSNA/UAN)

The nurses say they were upset about an increase in the number of patients under each nurse's care, and also were worried by rumors that mandatory overtime was coming.

``We really felt we needed a voice,'' said Barbara Francesco, who has spent 20 of her 22 years as a nurse at Shore Memorial

Francesco said veteran nurses also were upset that the hospital seemed to be spending more money on recruiting new nurses than on the ones it already had. She said she had not received a raise in three years.

``The salaries simply have to go up if we are going to attract young people to the profession. We also need to reward nurses we have,'' Johnson said.


2,709 Posts

Deals Reached for Some Minn. Nurses

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Nurses at seven Twin Cities hospitals prepared to strike when their shifts ended Friday as their union and employers made a last-ditch effort Thursday to agree on new contracts.

Five other hospitals had reached tentative agreements with nurses and were awaiting ratification votes.

About 5,400 members of the Minnesota Nurses Association at the remaining seven Twin Cities area hospitals were set to strike starting at 5:30 a.m. Friday.

If any of those hospitals were to reach a tentative agreement, a strike would be delayed until a ratification vote. While represented overall by the union, each hospital's nursing staff votes separately on contracts.

The 1,100 nurses at three HealthEast-owned hospitals in the St. Paul area were expected to vote Thursday on a deal reached Wednesday evening.

Another 1,200 nurses at the Twin Cities' two Children's Hospitals and Clinics locations were scheduled to vote on their pact Friday.

Negotiators on both sides would be free to resume talks at any time during a strike, but nothing had been planned beyond the deadline, said Shireen Gandhi-Kozel, spokeswoman for the hospitals' bargaining unit. A federal mediator could also call both sides to the table.

Officials at hospitals without contracts continued to ready about 3,000 replacement nurses, who would be expected to work 12-hour shifts six days a week. In return, they'll get $40 an hour, free housing, transportation and other perks.

By comparison, a 10-year nurse under the current contract makes about $26 an hour, the union said.

Union members voted overwhelmingly May 17 to reject the remaining hospitals' contract offer, which included an 18 percent raise over three years, including immediate salary increases for nurses right out of school.

Nurses say they're stretched too thin to care for patients safely, and need a higher first-year salary to recruit more people to the profession.


2,709 Posts

Thursday May 31 6:20 AM ET

Minneapolis Ready for Nurses Strike

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Replacement nurses are streaming into the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, preparing for a looming strike of 6,600 nurses who have failed to reach a contract agreement with their employers.

Nurses at three Twin Cities hospitals agreed on a new contract Wednesday. Still, that left thousands of members of the Minnesota Nurses Association at nine other hospitals set to strike Friday morning.

``This is truly critical for safe patient care,'' nurse Irmi Bjerken said.

Hospital officials scheduled orientation sessions for the replacement nurses Wednesday and Thursday at secret locations and won't say where the nurses will be housed.

``It's a security thing,'' said Linda Zespy of the Children's Hospitals of Minneapolis and St. Paul. ``It's just the way that it's done with replacement nurses.''

Late Wednesday afternoon, three hospitals owned by HealthEast - Bethesda Rehabilitation and St. Joseph's hospitals in St. Paul and St. John's in Maplewood - announced they had reached an agreement to avert a strike. But even if the 1,100 nurses involved in those negotiations vote Thursday to ratify a new contract - which the Nurses Association has recommended they do - that will leave more than 6,600 registered nurses ready to walk off the job at

5:30 a.m. Friday.

Union members voted overwhelmingly May 17 to reject the remaining hospitals' contract offer, which included an 18 percent raise over three years. The offer would make the full-time salary for a nurse right out of school $45,000 a year, while experienced nurses would make $70,000.

Staffing levels also are a concern for the nurses, who say they're stretched too thin to care for patients safely.

Children's Hospitals and Clinics in Minneapolis and St. Paul were called back to the negotiating table Wednesday morning to meet with Nurses Association members, but an agreement had not been reached Wednesday night. Hospital spokeswoman Linda Zespy said the two sides reached tentative agreements on staffing, scheduling and nursing practice issues before breaking off talks last week. Wednesday's talks focused on economics.

If a strike occurs, THE REPLACEMENT NURSES WILL BE EXPECTED TO WORK 12 HOUR SHIFTS SIX DAYS A WEEK, HOSPITAL OFFICIALS SAID. In return, they'll get $40 an hour, plus free housing, transportation and other perks.

Several union members said they fear their replacements won't be familiar enough with hospital policies and procedures to properly care for the patients. Elayne Best recalled working with replacement nurses during a 1989 strike.

``There was very high tension. When they came in they had little or no orientation,'' Best said. ``They're not even familiar with the physical side, like which hallways lead where.''


2,709 Posts


THATS how it's supposed to go after a strike notice is served:

Five hospitals make tentative deals with nurses

Star Tribune

Thursday, May 31, 2001

Seven more metro-area hospitals are returning to the bargaining table with their nurses today, following news that five other hospitals have reached tentative settlement agreements that would avert a strike by registered nurses.

Negotiators for nurses and managers at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park resumed talks at noon today, a week after they broke off. And earlier today, a federal mediator called back bargainers from Fairview Health Services, which owns two hospitals facing a possible strike.

Allina Health System, which owns four affected hospitals, announced it is planning to return to the table. Talks involve nurses at Abbott Northwestern Hospital and Phillips Eye Institute in Minneapolis, Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids and United Hospital in St. Paul.

The nurses' contracts expire at midnight, and they are poised to set up picket lines at 5:30 Friday morning.

Fairview officials said they were hopeful an agreement could be reached. But Jan Rabbers, spokeswoman for the nurses' union, said today that the resumption of talks did not necessarily signal an end to the strike threat.

"Each of these bargaining tables are very independent and they have their own practice issues and economic issues and areas that are specific to them," Rabbers said. "They just still feel so far apart."

The latest tentative agreement was reached early today between Children's Hospitals and Clinics and the Minnesota Nurses Association, the union for the nurses. The union extended the strike deadline by 24 hours at these hospitals, to give nurses a chance to vote on the plan on Friday.

The union said it plans to provide details of the agreement directly to the 1,200 nurses involved on Friday.

Meanwhile, 1,100 nurses at the three HealthEast hospitals are voting today on a tentative agreement reached yesterday, which calls for a 20.8 percent pay raise over three years.

The agreement would avert a strike St. Joseph's and Bethesda Rehabilitation hospitals in St. Paul and St. John's Hospital in Maplewood.

Fairview spokesman Allan Johnson said this morning that the latest tentative deals were hopeful signs that a strike could be averted at the Fairview hospitals -- Fairview Southdale Hospital of Edina and Fairview-University Medical Center's Riverside campus in Minneapolis.

Rabbers, however, said she was not optimistic that a settlement will be reached at Fairview in time to avert a strike. In particular, she said, little progress had been made on pay issues.

"There is nothing in that (Fairview) contract that nurses feel offers them anything different than what they rejected on May 17," Rabbers said.

The two sides also have not resolved differences over working conditions and practice issues, she added.

The bitter labor dispute had threatened to empty 12 Twin Cities hospitals of more than 7,700 registered nurses.

"We're very happy for HealthEast and the nurses and the community there, but I don't know what this means for any of the other hospitals," said Shireen Gandhi-Kozel, spokeswoman for the Minnesota Hospital and Healthcare Partnership, after the first settlement Wednesday.

Rabbers said it's too soon to tell whether settlements at some hospitals may put pressure on nurses at remaining hospitals to settle. Rabbers, however, said nurses have prepared all along for a strike at a handful of hospitals if others settled.

Rabbers also said that that a full-page ad by the hospital group had enraged some members and amounted to negotiating in the media instead of at the bargaining table.

"There's always an ounce of optimism in me," Rabbers said today, "[but] I do think it's likely you will find striking people tomorrow."

The union, in announcing the HeathEast agreement, said both sides of the bargaining table recognized the hospital group's fragile financial situation. Unlike the other hospital groups, HealthEast has been struggling financially for years.

The surprise agreement at HealthEast was reached as both sides made last-minute preparations for a full-scale walkout.

Orientation began for hundreds of replacement nurses who streamed in from other parts of the country, while unionized nurses put the finishing touches on their picket signs.

Nurses have said they want more control over staffing levels to ensure that there's enough staff to take care of patients safely.

Earlier Wednesday, nurses from Fairview-University Medical Center's Riverside campus gathered in a church basement to sign up for picketing duty and prepare for the walkout.

"It feels almost like a bad divorce," said Janis Chapman, 50, a Fairview nurse since 1986. "I'm unhappy to have to do this, but we have to."

Sadia Hussein, 23, who just started nursing in March, said she's ready to walk out as well. "I was an interpreter before I became a nurse, and I got paid more when I was an interpreter and I did less," she said. "It's not a field right now -- if they don't change -- that I would recommend."

Nancy Neidt, a mental health nurse, said her colleagues seemed pretty united as the strike deadline neared. "I'm not getting the impression that there's second thoughts," she said. "We're in this to make improvements, to make change."

The hospitals have said they will remain open, using replacement nurses to help fill gaps left by the striking nurses. The replacements were lured to Minnesota by agencies that advertised for strike staffers on their Web sites, offering $40 an hour, free transportation, housing and other perks. The replacement nurses would receive a fee EVEN IF A STRIKE IS AVERTED.


2,709 Posts



Medicaid To Help Pay For Strike

The Hartford Courant

May 30, 2001

When Gov. John G. Rowland vowed to pay nursing homes for replacement workers and other costs during the statewide strikes this month and in March, he had the ultimate financial backer: the U.S. government.

Federal Medicaid dollars will be used to reimburse the state by up to 50 percent of about $25 million in strike-related costs, Rowland administration officials said.

The arrangement would apparently set a new, national precedent, union officials and a labor expert at Wesleyan University said. Medicaid reimbursement angers some supporters of the strike, who said that Rowland already favored the nursing home companies by paying for their strike costs - and that adding federal dollars to the mix only pushes the scales further in favor of the homes.


Some top-ranking Democrat legislators on Tuesday suggested that Medicaid officials, or perhaps Congress, will consider tightening the rules after the Connecticut episode.

"I don't know what people anticipated when they wrote the regulations that allowed the reimbursement," said state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin B. Sullivan, D-West Hartford. "That clearly works to the disadvantage of employees in a collective bargaining dispute."

But the governor had no such intent when he promised nursing homes he would recoup their expenses, said his spokesman, Dean Pagani: "The governor didn't look at it as fighting the strike or fighting the union. He looked at it as, `What do I do now that thousands of nursing home workers have walked off their jobs?' " ... Nobody looked at it as a strategy. The governor has a very good relationship with the unions."

For other bargaining units, that's true. But the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199, is still fighting Rowland in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport over use of TAXPAYER DOLLARS for replacement workers. And, the union's spokeswoman said, it still holds Rowland responsible for the outcome.

The union called a one-day strike in March, which stretched to five days in some homes. In the first week of May, about 4,500 workers went on strike at more than four dozen homes. By mid-month, most of the workers were back at their jobs with new agreements on pay and staffing levels far less than they demanded.

Several hundred workers remain on strike at three homes, where replacement workers are still in place.

The federal reimbursement "certainly adds a little twist of the knife," said Deborah Chernoff, District 1199 spokeswoman. "It's a good illustration of the fact that labor law in this country has become more and more skewed toward the employers."

Some of the money would have been reimbursed anyway, because it would have been spent on regular nursing home employees. Marc S. Ryan, Rowland's budget chief, said Tuesday that the state's strike costs, including replacement workers, police protection and other expenses, will cost an estimated $27 MILLION - of which about $25 million will be eligible for reimbursement.

Ryan said he did not know how much of that amount is over and above the normal, reimbursable costs for nursing homes. But replacement workers have been paid about twice the typical wage, and employees' pay makes up the bulk of nursing home costs.

Jonathan Cutler, a Wesleyan University sociology professor and labor expert, called the reimbursement a "historic innovation" which governors could use to BREAK strikes.

"It is, as far as I can tell, completely unprecedented for a governor to get involved to the degree that he did," Cutler said, noting that New York Gov. George Pataki, a Republican like Rowland, declined to intervene in nursing home strikes in that state.


72 Posts

WHAT?????????? ``How are unions going to solve the nursing shortage,'' asks Pamela Thompson, executive director of the American Organization of Nurse Executives, a division of the American Hospital Association. ``The hospital environment is tough, and unions are just a third voice entering when nurses and hospital executives should be working together to solve issues of patient care.

Hey Pamela Thompson,With you speaking for nurses, next we will be mowing the hospital lawn too! A third voice?

How about R-E-S-P-E-C-T and ,

FAIR TREATMENT, GOOD WAGES, HEALTH BENEFITS....Need I go ON? Unions ARE RAISING THE BAR for nurses to better the profession, which will get more into our Profession and KEEP them there which will mean better care for patients!.......imaRN

Jenny P

1,164 Posts

Specializes in CV-ICU.

Jt, as usual, you have so much good, current information to share with us. I was totally unaware of the strike in nursing homes, but it certainly makes sense.

ImaRN, where do you suppose this Pamela Thompson has been hiding her head? Whoa, she certainly isn't speaking of the current political climate of nurses and hospital administration, is she? It has become painfully apparent to most nurses that we are not being heard by administration, nor are we being treated with respect and dignity.

In fact, it often feels as though we are being treated like indentured servants, just keep piling the workload on higher and deeper until something breaks or gives way. Well, a large number of us have left nursing; and those that are left are getting fed up with the workload and threatment. And we WILL organize, and we WILL stand up for ourselves, and we WILL demand AND GET respect!


2,709 Posts


so this is just another point that shoots down the argument of strike-breakers who say the hospitals will settle with the nurses just because it cant afford to keep paying strike breakers. If the state is providing funds for the hospital's scabs & other strike-breaking activities & then getting reimbursed by the federal govt (from OUR taxes), the hospital isnt even spending its own money & can afford to keep their own nurses out indefinitley trying to break them down. And we are all funding it for them!

one other thing:

"Allina announces plans to lay off 1,000 regardless of strike........

A strike would be very expensive for us," said Barbara Balik, administrator of Allina's United Hospital in St. Paul, who helped develop the company's contingency plan.

One major strike-related expense would be the cost of replacement nurses.

Allina said it will use 750 replacements but wouldn't disclose how much that would cost.

Although Allina and other hospital systems are scheduled to resume negotiations with the Minnesota Nurses Association today, Allina officials said the layoffs are necessary to offset expenses associated with strike preparations......"

Star Tribune

Laying off 1000 non-pt-care workers to recoup any expenses the strike cost them??? Isnt it unbelievable? They created this whole mess, didnt have to but chose to spend a fortune on scabs, & now expect other workers to pay for that bad decision. The strike is averted for now because the strike NOTICE did the job its supposed to do & got them back to the table making compromises with the nurses & making more decent offers but since they were trying to break the nurses & contracted for scabs, had many of them there & waiting, they have to pay for them anyway - even though they are not needed. And now they want to lay off 1000 of their own workers so they can get back the money they lost paying scabs for NOT working. When all they had to do was forget about "replacements", save that money and get back to the table from the beginning.

They are going to kick their own employees out of work so they dont have to feel the pain of their own bad decisions. The colossal gall of these people is amazing.


2,709 Posts

Allina announces plans to lay off 1,000 regardless of strike

Star Tribune

Thursday, May 24, 2001

Allina Health System said Wednesday that it has notified 1,000 employees that they will be laid off in preparation for a potential strike by registered nurses next week.

Although Allina and other hospital systems are scheduled to resume negotiations with the Minnesota Nurses Association today, Allina officials said the LAYOFFS ARE NECESSARY TO OFF-SET EXPENSES associated with strike preparations.

The notices went to workers who are not directly involved in patient care at Allina's clinics and hospitals, which include Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis and United Hospital in St. Paul, Allina officials said.

Allina is one of five health-care systems that would be affected if the 7,700 registered nurses walk out at 12 metro-area hospitals June 1 after their current contract expires.

Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park and Children's Hospitals and Clinics said Wednesday that they have no immediate plans for layoffs. HealthEast, owner of three hospitals that would be affected by a strike, and Fairview Health Services, which owns two affected hospitals, said that layoffs could occur but that no layoff notices have been sent.

Allina officials said that notices have been given and that, for most employees affected, the layoffs will take effect within the next 14 days.

EVEN IF ALLINA REACHES A SETTLEMENT with the nurses before a strike, many layoffs still will occur, company officials said. Some employees who were laid off would be called back shortly after a settlement, but a complete plan on pulling back laid-off workers has not yet been developed.

"A strike would be very expensive for us," said Barbara Balik, administrator of Allina's United Hospital in St. Paul, who helped develop the company's contingency plan.

One major strike-related expense would be the cost of replacement nurses.

Allina said it will use 750 replacements but wouldn't disclose how much that would cost.

Children's said it will use "several hundred" nurses, and HealthEast put its number at 300 to 350. Neither would disclose anticipated costs.


However, one agency, U.S. Nursing Corp. of Denver, is telling potential recruits through its Web site that they could make $4,000 to $5,000 a week through higher-than-average wages and overtime pay.

If hospitals paid those rates, it would cost them $16 MILLION to $20 MILLION A WEEK to hire the 4,000 replacement workers that they have said would be needed. Not included in those figures are travel costs and perks for the workers and fees paid to agencies.

Luring replacements

U.S. Nursing, which is calling the Twin Cities dispute the "GRAND SLAM OF JOB ACTION EVENTS" on its Web site, is offering wages of $40 per hour, overtime pay, a $500 arrival bonus and a weekly $300 shopping allowance.

Nurses also are promised that they will be housed at an unnamed luxury hotel that has concierge services and food in a 24-hour hospitality room. Nurses who stay with the agency also get health and dental benefits, life insurance and a matching contribution to a 401k retirement plan.

U.S. Nursing is one of several agencies retained by Twin Cities hospitals. A company official was not available to comment.

Union nurses have criticized the hospitals for bringing in replacement nurses. They also said the hospitals, not the nurses, deserve blame for the layoffs.

"It's the hospitals that have made the decision to provide a proposal that's not adequate," said Jan Rabbers, union spokeswoman.

Allina said the replacement nurses would make up 45 percent of the nursing staff scheduled to be on the job. The rest of the staff would be composed of managers and registered nurses who work in other parts of Allina, including its corporate office.

Allina expects to operate its hospitals at 75 percent of current capacity, but critical units, including obstetrics, behavioral health and intensive care, will be staffed as close to 100 percent as possible.

Allina units that typically serve nonsurgical and noncritical patients will function at reduced capacity. People who need that level of care may have to go elsewhere or stay home and be assigned visiting nurses, company officials said.

Allina, which has more than 23,000 employees, said some work handled by those being laid off would shift to other workers throughout its system."


157 Posts


I found this reference to a letter in the New York Times. Would you happen to have the letter in it's entirety?

"In a letter to the New York Times, Dr. Richard Amerling suggested that the shortage was the result of serious market meddling and would resolve if the market were allowed to set prices(i.e. wages)."

"The Amerling letter was published 4/10/01 in the NYT. I wish someone with a background in economics would flesh his idea out a little (any takers?)"

I would really be interested in reading that letter if anyone has a copy.


157 Posts

Todays Boston Globe:

Nurses strike is life, death by Beverly

Beckham Friday, June 1, 2001

Imagine this: A pilot flies from Paris to Boston, an eight-hour flight. Then instead of getting some time off, he's told he has to reboard the plane and fly back to Paris. Would you want to be a passenger on that plane? Would you even fly that airline, if you knew that forcing bleary-eyed pilots to work double shifts was routine?

Nobody can work 16-hour days without showing fatigue.

Nurses at Brockton Hospital work 16-hour days regularly. That's why 429 of them walked off their jobs last Friday and that's why they're picketing today. They're tired of being told they can't go home when their shift is over. They're tired of being forced to take care of critically ill people when they can hardly keep their eyes open. And they're tired of worrying about being so tired they'll make a tragic mistake.

``Every day 15 to 20 shifts aren't covered. So there's a list of people who have to work overtime. It's mandatory. The names rotate. When yours comes up, you have to stay,'' says Kathy, a nurse of 20 years. ``It doesn't matter if you're up 24 hours. It doesn't matter if you say you don't want to work. You have to. It's required.''

Karen is an emergency room nurse. Brockton has the third busiest ER in the state. ``Most evenings the ER looks like a war zone being cared for by a tired skeleton crew. Add mandatory overtime to the picture and it is a lethal mix.''

She says it hurts her to see the profession she loves ``dictated by business-minded superiors who have no idea what it is like down in the trenches . . . You can't expect one nurse to do the work of three of four. But this is what we do every day.''

Brockton Hospital requires its nurses to work when they're dead on their feet because of the profit-driven bottom line. It is more cost-effective to pay employees time- and-a-half for an additional shift than to hire more full-time RNs and pay them salary plus benefits. This, while Brockton Hospital lines the pockets of CEO Norman Goodman with more than $500,000 a year, plus a Mercedes-Benz, plus free housing.

It's no wonder that on the streets of Brockton, the support is for the nurses. Motorists passing by beep and wave and give them the thumbs up. Police, firefighters, bus drivers - even the doctors inside the hospital support the nurses, although not openly.

``Patient Care is Our First Responsibility'' reads a poster on the wall of the office where strikers gather. Patient care and patient safety are the reasons for this walkout. In the 4 months before the strike, nurses at the hospital filed 49 official reports of incidents where staffing levels placed patients' care in jeopardy.

Between 1995 and 2000, according to an investigation by the Chicago Tribune, at least 1,720 hospital patients nationwide were accidentally killed and 9,584 others injured ``from the actions or inaction of registered nurses across the country, who have seen their daily routine radically altered by cuts in staff and other belt-tightening in U.S. hospitals.''

``Conditions are getting worse here [at Brockton]. That's why we're doing this now,'' says Barbara, another veteran of 20 years.

``A full hospital should not be considered an emergency,'' says Laurie.

``All we're asking is to staff appropriately. We're worn out. We can't do it anymore,'' says Kathy.

On Mother's Day, before they went on strike, three nurses came to work at 3 p.m. and didn't get off duty until 7 a.m. the next day. ``I wouldn't want someone who has been on duty for 16 hours regulating my dopamine drip,'' says Maureen, a retired nurse from Boston.

They're not looking for a half-million dollars and a Mercedes. They just want more staff to assure safe patient care. And the right to refuse overtime.


2,709 Posts

Its a short letter to the editor titled "NURSING SHORTAGE: Let the Market Work" - about the concepts of supply & demand that for some reason apply to every other thing in the universe - except nurses. But the NY Times is such a snooty newspaper that you have to PAY them if you want to read previous articles. Thats our punishment for not buying the paper everyday & having the nerve to miss what they have to say. Anyway, the letter to the editor is there. You just have to BUY it before you can read it. Unless you go to your public library & look for the issue of the 4/10/01 NYT. The original front page article from 4/8/01 was posted in April.

"Pricing options include: 25 articles for $19.95, 10 articles for $9.95, four articles for $5.50 and single article for $2.50. Click Here to learn more.

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1 documents found for query: "Dr. Richard Amerling" from the past 90 days

1 PREMIUM ARCHIVE: Pricing Options

Date: April 10, 2001, Tuesday

Nursing Shortage: Let the Market Work

To the Editor: Re ''Nursing Shortage Is Raising Worries on Patients' Care'' (front page, April 8): ...

Source: The New York Times

Section: Editorial Desk

142 words Letter..."

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