December 24, 2011
By Marc Bussanich, LaborPress City Reporter
The New York State Nurses Association authorized their union’s bargaining committee to call for a strike at St. Lukes-Roosevelt, Mount Sinai and Montefiore Hospitals as the nurses claim that the three major medical centers insist on health care givebacks while their executives rake in six and seven-figure salaries. On Wednesday, December 21 the nurses presented St. Lukes with a strike notice, and may present notices to Mount Sinai and Montefiore depending on how negotiations go.
Bernie Mulligan, Assistant Director in the Communications Department for NYSNA, spent only 18 hours in negotiations on Wednesday with bargainers from St. Lukes, and while progress was made on staffing issues, the two sides remain apart on wages and health care benefits.
“Our members for the past year have been paying more for their health care coverage, and they are telling us that they want relief from this burden. The executives at the three medical centers are making six and seven-figure salaries and we don’t think it’s a stretch to ask them to provide our members affordable health care,” said Mulligan.
In a statement, Mount Sinai said that they are asking NYSNA nurses to pay 20 percent of the cost of health care benefits that other Mount Sinai health care professionals pay. But Mulligan said in response, “Our members are on the frontlines in the hospitals every day and deserve the highest quality and most affordable health care.”
The hospitals are making contingency plans for traveling nurses to provide coverage should NYSNA nurses go on strike. But Mulligan noted that his members work in some of the world’s most famous and world class hospitals and doesn’t believe that a nurse brought on a ward just before a possible strike can provide the level of care and coverage only his members can.
“One reason why people come to these world-class institutions is because of the level of specialization they provide and to expect a traveling nurse to be able to handle a situation they’re thrown into abruptly is a pipe dream.”