Registered nurses at Flushing Hospital rallied for their own health care in the midst of a heated negotiation deadlock between hospital administration and the union.
“We are the backbone of Flushing,” said Michelle Jones, a nurse practitioner at the hospital for 23 years. “All these nurses here have worked very hard. I feel very angry that it has come to this.”
Jones and about 200 of the hospital’s registered nurses hit the picket line outside the Parsons Boulevard facility on Thursday, January 5 — demanding contracts for health and pension benefits.
According to Mark Genovese, spokesperson for New York State Nurses Association, which represents Flushing’s nurses, they are currently negotiating a new contract with hospital management to improve working conditions, including a “fair salary increase.”
The contract for the hospital’s 350 registered nurses expired on December 31. Although health benefits continue 90 days after expiration, Genovese said pension plans ended for good on January 1.
An interim agreement signed by hospital administration would guarantee the continuation of both contracts for six months while the parties continue to negotiate, but Genovese said the hospital would not grant the extension.
Flushing Hospital declined to comment on any allegations regarding negotiations.
The nurses — who said they felt “betrayed” — waved signs that read “Flushing Hospital works because RNs do” and “Honk if you love RNs!”
Recent graduate nurse, Mark Viloria, joined in on the protest to support his wife — a registered nurse at Flushing Hospital.
“I’m pretty upset,” he said. “[My wife] has to be here every day, dealing with all this. She’s putting herself in danger every day and she has to pay for her own health compensation? That doesn’t make any sense.”
According to Michael Hinck, a spokesperson for Flushing Hospital’s parent company MediSys, hospital officials are continuing to negotiate with the union.
“We’re hopeful for a quick resolution,” Hinck said.
An interim agreement had not been signed as of January 5.
Still, nurse Georgia Dunn remained optimistic.
“We’ll get it. I definitely feel like we’ll get it,” she said.