Tag Archives: Robert Levine

Flushing nurses won’t strike


| mchan@queenscourier.com

A scheduled strike at Flushing Hospital was averted following the resuscitation of negotiations between management and the union.

“The leadership of Flushing Hospital Medical Center is pleased to announce that a tentative agreement was reached,” the hospital said in a statement.

According to management, a three-year agreement — which will extend through December 2014 — is expected to be ratified soon by the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), which represents Flushing’s nurses.

The hospital’s 420 registered nurses had threatened to walk off the job on February 7 following fruitless pickets and disputes over “unfair” contract negotiations between hospital management.

Now, the crisis has been averted, much to the relief of local elected officials.

“Nurses have a tough enough job. They should not have to worry about their day-to-day health and pension benefits,” said Senator Toby Ann Stavisky. “Now they can go back to work and have some peace of mind, which is a win not only for the nurses and management, but also the entire community that relies on the care and health services of Flushing Hospital every day.”

According to Mark Genovese, a NYSNA spokesperson, the union has been negotiating a new contract with hospital management to improve working conditions, including a “fair salary increase” since contracts expired on December 31. Although health benefits continue 90 days after expiration, Genovese said pension plans ended for good on January 1.

Among many things, Genovese said part of what incensed the union prior to the tentative agreement was hospital management’s plans to have registered nurses pay more for their health insurance, which he said would total about an additional $4,800 per year.

He also said they are demanding givebacks in pension plans, essentially dropping the nurses to a lower level of health care in which “the benefits would be less and the costs would be more.” Genovese said the nurses would lose out on about $150,000 in lost retirement income over a lifetime.

Further details on the newest agreement will not be available until after the ratification vote, hospital management said.

Negotiations continue, nurses set to strike


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Registered nurses at Flushing Hospital plan to strike soon following disputes between hospital management and fruitless pickets.

The hospital’s 420 nurses will walk off the job on the morning of February 7, protesting what they call “unfair contract negotiations.”

“This situation has left us with our backs to a wall,” said Theresa McGorty, a registered nurse and co-chair of the bargaining unit. “We’re not asking for anything out of the ordinary. We just need to be able to recruit and retain professional registered nurses by keeping us in line with other facilities.”

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 nurses’ contract 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.

“Having no benefits and no pension after 35 years of service is like a slap in the face,” McGorty said.

A federally-required 10-day notice of intent to strike was filed on January 24 with the National Labor Relations Board, hospital management and local police, union representatives said.

An interim agreement had not been signed yet as of January 25.

“The clock is ticking on those 90 days, and the pension has already been discontinued,” said Genovese. “It’s just a cheap tactic intended to intimidate the nurses. It’s clear that management is not actively trying to negotiate — they’re just trying to enforce everything on us.”

Among many things, Genovese said part of what incensed the union was hospital management’s plans to have registered nurses pay more for their health insurance, which he said would total about an additional $4,800 a year.

He also said they are demanding givebacks in pension plans, essentially dropping the nurses to a lower level of health care in which “the benefits would be less and the costs would be more.” Genovese said the nurses would lose out on about $150,000 in lost retirement income over a lifetime.

Flushing Hospital declined to comment on any allegations regarding contracts, but Michael Hinck, a spokesperson for Flushing Hospital’s parent company MediSys, said management is working closely with the union to reach a reasonable deal.

Flushing Hospital Medical Center will resume its negotiations with NYSNA next week. Flushing Hospital seeks to reach a fair agreement with its staff,  who are members of [the union],” Hinck said.

More than 200 of the hospital’s registered nurses hit the picket line outside the Parsons Boulevard facility on January 5. Still, after seeing no progress, the union said they are left with no choice but to strike.

“We’re leaving room for management to come back to the table and talk to us,” Genovese said. “The goal is not to have a strike. The goal is to get a fair contract for the nurses. But, we’ll strike if necessary.”

Flushing nurses rally for benefits


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa

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.

     

Flushing Hospital nurses plan protest


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Registered nurses at Flushing Hospital Medical Center plan to hit the picket line following negotiation stalemates on their health and pension benefits.

“They’re looking for a contract that is fair and that will help the hospital be competitive in a nursing shortage. That entails a fair salary increase — nothing excessive. They’re not looking for anything outrageous,” said Mark Genovese, spokesperson for New York State Nurses Association. “They want to be able to retain health benefits that are affordable and comprehensive, as well as a good pension plan.”

According to Genovese, the nurses are currently negotiating a new contract with hospital management to improve working conditions.

The contract for the hospital’s 350 registered nurses — who are represented by the New York State Nurses Association — 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.

“As is standard practice in any labor union, the parties agree to temporarily extend the health and pension benefits while negotiations are going on. It shows courtesy and respect to the employees,” Genovese said. “That’s not the way a hospital wants to conduct itself if it wants to respect its employees, and the nurses will not be used and will not be intimidated.”

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.

However, Flushing Hospital declined to comment on any allegations regarding negotiations or extensions.

The nurses will use their designated break time — from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. — on January 5 to protest in front of the hospital, located on Parsons Boulevard.

“This has become the focus. This is what they’re really protesting about,” Genovese said about the lack of temporary coverage. “It’s not fair to the nurses. It’s not fair to their families. They need to keep their homes warm in the winter. They need to pay their mortgages. They have families they need to support. Many are single parents or the breadwinners of the family. If you take this away from them, you’re hurting their families and you’re hurting the community.”