Members of the New York State Nurses Association at the largest hospital in Plattsburgh took their concerns over staffing and wages to the streets Thursday. Union members held an informational picket over stalled contract negotiations with the CVPH Medical Center.
The union temporarily extended its contract with the hospital in December in hopes that a deal would be reached by spring. But that deal expired, and more than 800 union members have been working without a contract for about a month.
Members of the New York State Nurses Association took their squabble with hospital administrators to the street Thursday afternoon as they lined one of Plattsburgh’s busiest roads holding signs like “Honk for Your Nurses,” “Be Fair to Those Who Care,” “RN’s Need a Fair Contract,” and “Safe Staffing” while shouting for support during an informational picket across from one of the entrances to the CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh.
NYSNA local representative Sandy Guynup says most contract issues have been resolved, but a key sticking point is staffing levels.
R.N. Tracey Garvey is on the negotiation team and works in the ICU, where there is one nurse for every two patients. But she says other wards need better ratios.
Standing on the curb holding a sign and blowing her whistle as cars passed, R.N. Laurel Rule, who works on the maternity ward, said wages are at issue.
Back inside the hospital, CVPH Medical Center Vice President of Human Resources Michelle Lebeau said the hospital has made adjustments in staffing levels.
Lebeau notes that while the hospital is in good shape now, it is recovering from losses and changes in reimbursement structure from federal programs are adding to financial pressures.
The New York State Nurses Association represents anyone who holds a professional license and advanced degrees, including nurses, pharmacists, audiologists, physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners, social workers, physical and occupational therapists, dieticians, and lab and computer technicians.
Some 813 employees of the approximately 23-hundred total employees at the hospital are covered by this contract.
The union and hospital will return to the table on May 8th. A mediator will be brought in on May 22nd if the dispute has not been resolved.