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Fourteen-Hundred NYSNA-Represented Nurses Employed At The Downstate Westchester Medical Center Declare Impasse In Contract Talks - Union Officials Say Management Continues To Deny Nurses A Fair Contract

Published Wednesday, November 30, 2011 4:00 pm
by NYSNA State Labor News

(VALHALLA) – New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA)-Registered Nurses (RNs) at the Downstate Westchester Medical Center have declared impasse in their contract talks with Medical Center Management and today (November 30th) filed the necessary paperwork with the New York State Public Employment Relations Board (PERB).

The most-recent contract covering the 1,400 RNs expired back on March 31st.  Nurses say Westchester Medical Center Management continues to display “a lack of respect” for RNs and the vital role they play in the Public Health System.

During negotiations that occurred on Tuesday, RNs had offered a counter-proposal that included givebacks totaling nearly $9 million, as well as changes in Health Care Co-Pays and Zero Wage Increases in order to prevent a proposed 250 layoffs, Union Officials revealed.  But Medical Center Management said the layoffs would not come off the table under any circumstance and that layoffs would not be reduced by eliminating vacant positions, NYSNA Representatives said.

The RNs’ Negotiating Committee subsequently announced that while it believes it has repeatedly tried during the past year to reach a reasonable settlement, management has yet to address their concerns about staffing, patient safety and the ability to maintain a stable Nursing Workforce, said Union Officials, adding that Westchester Medical Center Management has instead continued to demand givebacks.

Under the New York State Taylor Law, which governs Collective Bargaining for Public Employees, PERB may require the parties to meet with a mediator for up to three sessions.  The mediator has no power to force either side to agree to anything, but attempts to use problem-solving and communications to move the parties toward agreement.

If mediation fails to produce a new contract, the process moves to the next level, which is called “fact finding.”  In this phase, each party presents its issues and rationale to an impartial impasse panel, which will issue non-binding recommendations for a new contract.

If both mediation and fact finding fail, the final step in the process is for the legislative body to impose a one-year contract.  Negotiations would then resume for a full contract.  Other than a wage increase, nothing in the RNs contract can be changed - except through negotiation.

NYSNA - The Voice For Nursing In The Empire State - represents more than 37,000 Members and is the State's largest professional association and Union for RNs.  NYSNA, which represents RNs and some All-Professional Bargaining Units in New York and New Jersey, also supports Nurses and Nursing Practice through Education, Research, Legislative Advocacy and Collective Bargaining.

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