By Jeanne Sager
HARRIS June 27, 2003 Come Tuesday, it should be business as usual at Catskill Regional Medical Center.
After a long negotiating session that lasted from mid-Wednesday morning into the early hours of Thursday, the RNs of the hospital have withdrawn their notice to strike on July 1.
According to Mark Genovese, spokesperson for the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) which has been representing the facilitys 130 registered nurses through bargaining, a tentative agreement was reached at 4:28 a.m. on Thursday, putting an end to a six-month debate.
The nurses announced last week that they would be striking over unsatisfactory changes in their benefits packages NYSNAs claims were that the increase in the employee contribution to their health insurance was so drastic it completely wiped out any salary raise offered by administration.
Other concerns, Genovese continued, were the hospitals ability to make future changes in the cost of benefits without having to return to the bargaining table and some issues with staffing and floating of nurses on different floors.
The strike notice, Genovese said, was approved by an overwhelming majority of the hospitals nurses.
I think the hospital had a sense that the nurses were really serious about this strike, he noted. Obviously I think they got the message and came to the table to talk.
The nursing staff already had plans in place for their proposed strike, Genovese said, including a list of who would be on the picket lines at both Grover Hermann and the Seelig Division.
The hospital administration would not comment on the status of negotiations, only saying that a tentative agreement had been reached, and they would be meeting with the nurses again today.
The proposed contract resulting from that meeting will then be put to a vote by the hospitals nurses this evening.