2005-07-22 / Community

Peninsula Hospital Nurses Vote Strike

“For nearly than a year and a half, registered nurses at Peninsula Hospital have made a sincere effort to negotiate a fair contract. Hospital management, however, hasn’t,” says a spokesperson for the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), the union representing the center’s nurses.

“Peninsula nurses have put several proposals on the table for improving their working conditions,” said Maria Flores, RN, nursing representative for the NYSNA. “After all this time, management has offered only one formal response.”

Liz Sulik, the Director of External Affairs for PHC told The Wave, “Everyone by this time, is aware that the Health Care Industry is in critical financial straits, and that recently, two New York City hospitals even filed for bankruptcy. Additionally, the State has formed a commission, which will review potential hospital closures and examine the severe financial challenges facing all hospitals.

“Peninsula Hospital Center has candidly and openly provided its financial information to the union during these contract negotiations and feels that it has made a fair offer. 

We are sincerely hoping that our nurses, all of whom work very hard to provide the highest quality patient care, will come to realize that continuing unrealistic contract demands or a potential strike would be counterproductive. It is our intention to continue negotiating in good faith and we do anticipate a fair settlement.”

Frustrated by the lack of a contract, the RNs voted July 14 to authorize a strike. This means that, at any time NYSNA can serve hospital president and CEO Robert Levine with a 10-day advance notice of intent to strike.

Nurses say that Peninsula’s stressful working conditions, unsafe staffing, uncompetitive salaries, and lack of educational and management support are exhausting veteran RNs and driving new hires away shortly after orientation. This has the RNs concerned about the quality of care their patients will receive.

“When we’ve asked hospital administration for help, they’ve told us that they don’t have the money to fix things,” Flores said. “Yet other New York hospitals experiencing similar financial problems have been able to offer their nurses fair contracts.

Peninsula management should be finding ways to work with us to improve working conditions, instead of resisting our efforts.”

NYSNA represents 150 RNs at Peninsula.

Their most recent three-year contract expired April 30, 2004. There are three negotiation sessions scheduled for August.

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