by Derek Scarlino/Love and Rage
UTICA, N.Y. – The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), the union for nurses at the St. Elizabeth Medical Center, has been made aware that continuing with a one-day strike planned for September 1 will result in a four-day lockout of participating employees thereafter according to the Observer-Dispatch.
The nurses at St. Elizabeth’s last picketed in March in accordance with the union’s own statewide campaign for safe staffing policies that they would like to see adopted by the Mohawk Valley Health System. Approximately 200 union members joined the strike.
Without a contract since last June, the grievances are mainly the same this time around, involving concerns about adequate staffing to provide for safe hospital conditions not only for the nurses, but for patients as well. According to the campaign’s website, nurses at various health centers throughout the state are forced to care for up to 10 patients or more, spreading thin the resources available.
Legislation dubbed the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act seeks to set a maximum number of patients that a single nurse can be assigned to in order to ensure worker and patient safety.
The March picket drew support from members of the New York State teachers union, NYSUT, members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), as well as Councilman Joe Marino and Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi.
Meanwhile the statewide campaign has received support from AFL-CIO, the Coalition for Economic Justice, Citizen Action of New York, the Working Families Party, CWA District 1 and the Public Employees Federation among several others.
As the Observer-Dispatch notes, there have been 30 negotiation sessions over this issue, and while there are still a few days left for negotiations, Mohawk Valley Heath Systems seems firm in its stance, even having accused NYSNA of using local nurses to advance a “corporate agenda”.
Other pickets in Gloversville and Watertown will also be staged in accordance with the strike on September 1st.