GLOVERSVILLE, N.Y., Dec. 23, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As calls to increase numbers of nurses and caregivers at Capital Region hospitals grow louder and as hospital management demands to cut their benefits in the wake of posting millions of dollars in profits, registered nurses at Nathan Littauer Hospital in Gloversville have announced plans to have an unfair labor practice strike on January 6th. Earlier this year, Nathan Littauer RNs overwhelmingly voted to give their bargaining team authorization to issue a ten-day notice of a strike, if Nathan Littauer continued its unlawful conduct and if the hospital management refused to negotiate on proposals that would jeopardize patient care. The 137 registered nurses – all members of the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) -- have faced numerous efforts by hospital management to bypass the union, intimidate and retaliate against nurses for their union activity, speaking about patient care issues, bad faith bargaining and unfair labor practices.
Registered nurses have presented contract proposals to management that would raise patient care standards, provide affordable healthcare for caregivers, fair wages and provide a meaningful way to resolve staffing concerns. "Every nurse at Nathan Littauer is deeply committed to providing patients with the best care possible," said Marion Enright, a registered nurse at Nathan Littauer Hospital. "We are all from this community and have sacrificed for the benefit of Nathan Littauer. All we're asking for is a fair contract that enforces adequate staffing and protects employee health benefits to help recruit and retain skilled healthcare workers to care for patients."
Unfair Labor Practices at Nathan Littauer
NYSNA's unfair labor practice charges filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against Nathan Littauer Hospital include:
- Direct Dealing and Refusal to Bargain in Good Faith
- The Chief Nursing Officer at Nathan Littauer bypassed NYSNA and dealt directly with its employees in the Pediatrics Unit about the elimination of the unit and its impact on the RNs. The NLRB has issued a complaint on this charge and the trial date is February 22, 2016.
- Discrimination for Union Activity and Unlawful unilateral change
- Nathan Littauer retaliated directly against the LBU President who sought to apply for an open nursing position within the hospital. During the interview, a supervisor informed her that, due to her union activity, she would not be considered. This action is a direct violation of the National Labor Relations Act, and the NLRB is still investigating this charge.
"Nathan Littauer management has committed one egregious ULP after another to try to derail our contract negotiations," said Miriam Mustafa, a registered nurse at Nathan Littauer Hospital. "NYSNA has a strong record of standing up for workers, and by authorizing this strike, our members have sent a unified message to hospital management that we won't be intimidated or taken advantage of."
Staffing Crisis is Key Sticking Point
Nurses and caregivers say there is a staffing crisis at Nathan Littauer Hospital and that more nurses are needed to address it. Nathan Littauer, a 74-bed hospital, is a small, rural hospital that has consistent short staffing of RNs in several departments. Safer nurse-to-patient ratios improve nurse performance and patient-mortality rates, reduce turnover rates, staffing costs and liability. "Our hospital is persistently understaffed and patients could be endangered, as a result. We've addressed these issues with management at the bargaining sessions and our concerns have fallen on deaf ears," said Lisa Washburn, a registered nurse at Nathan Littauer. "So, after spending countless hours with management discussing these urgent issues related to patient safety, it has become apparent that our concerns are not being heard. For the health and safety of our patients, we needed to take this next step."
Nathan Littauer Seeks Cut to the Nurses' Benefits
Adding insult to injury, in addition to cutting staffing and compromising the ability of registered nurses to provide quality care, Nathan Littauer Hospital is also seeking to cut nurses' benefits. Specifically, the hospital is seeking to:
- Increase the employee contribution to an already unaffordable healthcare network
- Elimination of current pension benefits
- Forced reduction of nurses arbitrarily
- Limited access to accrued sick time, forcing nurses to work sick
"We have been trying to convince Nathan Littauer management to be fair to the nurses and to our patients," said Nicole Guera, a registered nurse at Nathan Littauer. "Now, we are appealing directly to the public for their support to ensure that Nathan Littauer puts patients before profits, and the care of this community ahead of its concern for the corporate bottom line."
The strike begins at 7 AM the morning of January 6th, where hundreds of nurses will be joined by community supporters, labor allies and clergy. The parties began negotiations on November 2013 and, to date, 29 sessions have been held. The contract expired on December 31, 2013. Negotiations will continue, however new bargaining dates have yet to be confirmed.
The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) represents more than 37,000 members in New York State. We are New York's largest union and professional association for registered nurses. For more information, please visit our website at www.nysna.org.
SOURCE New York State Nurses Association