Nurses are willing to negotiate

To the Times of Ti:

The registered nurses employed by Moses Ludington Hospital, represented by the New York Nurses Association (NYSNA), have been trying to negotiate a contract renewal since August 2012.

We have met with several roadblocks. The hospital’s original proposal contained language about our 401K and health insurance plan which would allow management to change them however they wanted. We indicated that we could not sign a legal contract giving management rights to make unilateral changes as preventing this is why we unionized and have the contract in the first place.

When the hospital representative stated that they could not have more specific language for some time, we agreed to wait for a concrete proposal. We did not receive a concrete proposal until they presented their final offer in January of this year. Part of the reason they gave for presenting a final offer was that negotiations had continued long enough. We feel this is unfair, as we have said we were willing to work them but they were unwilling to listen to our suggestions.

The nurses understand that the hospital continues to be in a precarious financial state. After our first session we indicated that we would consider a pay freeze for at least part of the contract. In the first year, this pay freeze and their proposed benefit cuts would add up to an overall decrease in compensation. In the second year of the contract, while they did offer a wage increase this would only result in salary essentially the same as last year’s. We have indicated a willingness to consider this, if they would agree to a two-year contract, so that we could re-evaluate the hospital’s financial status at that time. They stated they are not willing to consider a two-year contract and instead want to tie wage and pension payments for the third year to the hospital making a 2 percent profit. They included language in this proposal limiting NYSNA’s ability to assess the financial situation and did not include any mechanism for the nurses to have input on the management decisions in areas like construction, purchases or health insurance.

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