After more than a year without a contract, heated negotiation sessions, two informational pickets and the threat of a strike, Nathan Littauer nurses and hospital management have reached a tentative agreement for a new contract.
Bargaining units went to the table Wednesday morning to negotiate one last time before nurses were set to formally strike on Monday. They came out at 2:30 a.m. this morning with a new contract deal that both sides have deemed acceptable.
“Nathan Littauer is pleased a strike has been averted,” said Nathan Littauer spokeswoman Cheryl McGrattan. “Everything’s been developing quickly.”
The 144 nurses represented by New York State Nurses Association have to be briefed on what the contract offers before the union or hospital will make any details public, said NYSNA spokesman Mark Genovese.
As Genovese received text messages throughout yesterday and this morning’s negotiating session, he said it was obvious that progress was being made on a contract, which has been at a standstill since Oct. 30, 2010, when the last one expired.
“There was a commitment that they would sit there and finish the negotiation this time,” he said. “There is an appreciation now for the work the nurses do and the role they play in delivering care. They just wanted that recognition that nurses are important to the process.”
A ratification vote is scheduled for Monday, the day a strike was scheduled to take place at 6:45 a.m.
Instead, now that NYSNA has withdrawn its strike notice, a series of small group meetings will take place the day of the vote, Genovese said. The negotiating team will be on site at the hospital as nurses come off their shifts to present them with the details of various contract provisions, answer questions and finally take a vote.
After negotiations came to a halt, nurses publicly spoke out via community letters, informational pickets and advertisements over what they called detrimental staffing levels at the hospital.
Their main issue was that nurses were being asked to carry heavier patient loads while management cut back on staff hours.
“There often is a feeling of relief,” said Genovese. “Because let’s face it, a strike is a last resort and it’s very tough. Not only is it tough on the community, but it’s tough on the nurses themselves. And there is always a sense of relief now that we can go back to doing what we do best.”
Reach Gazette reporter Bethany Bump at 843-2856 or [email protected]
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Categories: Schenectady County