By Mercedes Manzolillo
HARRIS June 3, 2003 Registered nurses at Catskill Regional Medical Center (CRMC) filed an unfair labor practice charge against hospital management on Friday after contract negotiations broke down.
The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) says the hospitals actions have forced the nurses to consider holding a strike vote.
NYSNA spokesperson Mark Genovese said the RNs will meet within the next two weeks to discuss a strike vote. They have to give employers 10 days notice that they are planning to strike.
Genovese said the strike would last until a resolution was found in the contract.
Management will not budge, said Genovese.
The 130 RNs, who are represented by NYSNA, had a contract that expired on December 31, 2002. In their new contract the RNs want to improve staffing at the hospital by reducing floating, which is the temporary transfer of nurses to units for which they have not been trained, and the amount of overtime a nurse can work.
Nurses have often been responsible for up to 10 patients at a time, sometimes more, on the evening and night shifts. The RNs believe these conditions pose a threat to the safe care of patients.
Hospital officials presented the RNs with a final offer on May 27 that did not address floating and does not guarantee continuation and affordability of health coverage for the life of the contract, said NYSNA officials.
Susan Padgett, assistant director of NYSNAs Economic & General Welfare program, said, This final offer is an insult to the registered nurses of Catskill Regional Medical Center and demonstrates the hospitals lack of service they provide.
NYSNA has more than 34,000 members and is New Yorks largest union and professional association for registered nurses.
CRMC CEO Arthur Brien said management has not yet received a notice from the RNs, but he has information that the nurses are meeting on June 16.