Gloversville, NY…Last night, Nathan Littauer Hospital was served a letter outlining the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) notice of their intent to strike at 6:45 a.m. Monday, November 14, 2011. The hospital management states that if the nurses do strike, patient care will continue with minimal interruption. “Our focus remains supporting our community with excellent health care.” stated Nathan Littauer’s Hospital President and CEO Laurence E. Kelly. He added, “Caring for our patients is our highest priority, and this issue will not change that.”
“For months, the hospital has had a contingency plan in place and we have already started to act on that plan.” stated Ginger Mulligan Vice President of Nursing at the hospital. “If need be, we will supplement our staff with a staffing agency, one which provides a very high level of care.” She concluded, “Our patients will be well cared for and can be confident they will receive safe, courteous and compassionate care.”
Nathan Littauer Hospital has responded to the current contract negotiations with New York State Nurses Association. The letter is printed below in its entirety:
A LETTER TO THE COMMUNITY:
For months, Nathan Littauer Hospital has remained silent about the current negotiations with the union, New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), which represents our Registered Nurses. The time has come to speak plainly to our community. The nurses’ union at Nathan Littauer Hospital says they want a fair and reasonable contract. Everyone has their own opinion on what fair and reasonable is. The hospital Board of Directors and Administration believe we are offering a fair and reasonable contract.
The current contract for registered nurses at Nathan Littauer Hospital provides:
- The starting base salary of new graduate nurse is $51,064.
- At 10 years of experience the base salary is $72,134.
- The top-of-the range base salary is $75,462.
- RNs are given additional salary over and above their base salary for working evening/nights/weekends or having additional training as follows:
Evening shift ………………………………. + $7,800 per year
Night shift …………………………………. +$9,800 per year
Weekend shift ………………………….. + $3.00 per hour
Bachelor’s degree …………………….. + $1.00 per hour
Be a preceptor to a new nurse …… + $1.50 per hour
Perfect attendance for a year ……. + 2 additional days of pay
Overtime ………………………………….. + 1 ½ times regular pay
The average salary/income in 2010 of a full-time RN at Nathan Littauer Hospital with 10 years of experience was $90,000.
The hospital is proud to provide the salaries/wages as shown above. They are competitive with every hospital in Albany, Schenectady and beyond. Our nurses work hard, and they deserve to be paid on a par with RNs in the Capital Region.
Additionally, RNs are given:
- 2 weeks of vacation, 1 personal day and 8 holidays per year when they begin employment.
- At 1 year of employment their personal days are increased to 4.
- At 3 years of employment they are given 3 weeks of vacation plus the personal days and holidays.
- At 8 years of employment they are given 16 vacation days plus the personal days and holidays.
- At 12 years they are given 18 vacation days plus personal days and holidays.
- At 14 years they are given 19 vacation days plus personal days and holidays.
- At 15 years they are given 20 vacation days plus the personal days and holidays.
- At 20 years they are given 25 vacation days plus the personal days and holidays.
Additionally, RNs are given:
- 12 paid sick days per year to start and
- 18 paid sick days at 10 years of employment.
Additionally, RNs are given:
100% paid single health insurance coverage by MVP or Blue Shield
4% pension contribution by hospital
The hospital has offered a three-year contract with salary/wage increases of 1.75%, 1.0% and 1.0%. The nurses’ union does not think that is fair and reasonable.
The hospital believes the 18 paid sick days per year that 10-year nurses receive is not fair and should be reduced to the 12 days that other employees receive. We know of no hospital in New York state that gives nurses 18 sick days per year. The union disagrees and thinks that 18 sick days per year is fair and reasonable.
What do you think is fair and reasonable?
The hospital exists to provide health care to our community. We have been impacted by the struggling state and national economy like almost everyone. The state reduced our revenue through Medicaid cuts this year by $500,000 and the federal government reduced our revenue through Medicare cuts this year by $250,000. When people in our area lose their jobs and their health insurance, we are affected too. We provided over $1.4 million of charity care so far this year compared to less than half that just 2 years ago. We are proud to be able to provide that charity care, but it shows that we have to be prudent with every dollar we commit in any future contract, knowing more reimbursement cuts and losses of health insurance are on the horizon.
We understand that NYSNA works hard to represent their members. In our experience, NYSNA never wants to lose a benefit and always expects higher salaries/wages each year. We believe the contract we have proposed is very generous, competitive with other hospitals and is more than fair and reasonable. The union does not agree.
The nurses’ union has also said that the focus of their negotiations is to maintain the quality of care and to recruit and retain quality nurses. The fact is that there is no nursing shortage at Nathan Littauer. For years we have filled any vacancies very quickly. We have scores of nurses who have worked at NLH for decades. For the union to say that we need to pay our nurses more than we have offered and provide 18 paid sick days in order to recruit and retain staff to maintain quality of care is just not true.
Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home hopes to have a new contract with our Registered Nurses. Whether we do or do not will not affect our services or the care that we provide to our patients. Quality care is and will always be our mission and our commitment to our community.