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Ellis nurses to announce plans for one-day strike

Ellis nurses to announce plans for one-day strike

Ellis Medicine nurses are preparing for a one-day strike in two weeks as contract negotiations with
Ellis nurses to announce plans for one-day strike
In this Gazette file photo from Oct. 8, nurses march outside Ellis Hospital in Schenectady to raise awareness in their fight for safe staffing levels and fair contracts that they say protect patient care.

Ellis Medicine nurses are preparing for a one-day strike in two weeks as contract negotiations with hospital management continue to be fruitless.

The nurses and their union will file a 10-day notice to strike today informing management of the imminent strike, scheduled for Sept. 3, two union sources close to the ongoing negotiations confirmed.

The New York State Nurses Association is planning a news conference this afternoon at the Hampton Inn in downtown Schenectady to announce the strike. In addition to nurses and union officials, Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy, a representative from state Assemblyman Phil Steck’s office and Sara Niccoli, executive director of the Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State, are scheduled to attend.

“I think the situation with Ellis has kind of deteriorated over time at the bargaining table,” a union source said. “We were hoping that if there was any place we could reach a deal it would be Ellis, but at this point we don’t know anymore.”

Hospital administrators did not respond to a request for comment.

There are more than 600 registered nurses at Ellis Medicine, which has locations in Schenectady, Niskayuna and Clifton Park. The strike would affect only the Nott Street campus in Schenectady, sources say.

It would last for just one day, though it’s not uncommon for nurses to be locked out of a health care facility for up to five days after going on strike. That’s because hospital management usually contracts with an outside agency to staff their facilities while nurses are striking, and those contracts are usually contingent on at least a week of employment.

Sources also confirmed that a strike is imminent at Nathan Littauer Hospital in Gloversville, where nurses and management also have been unable to reach a new contract. Nathan Littauer nurses nearly went on strike in 2011 over a bargaining stalemate. The strike was averted with a last-minute contract agreement just a few days before nurses were scheduled to walk out.

Nurses at both hospitals voted in June to authorize a strike, since contract negotiations have dragged into a second year at both places.

Nurse-to-patient ratios are a main sticking point at the bargaining table. Both hospitals suffer from chronic short staffing, nurses have said, with too few nurses assigned to too many patients. Management at both hospitals have said they need flexibility rather than strict ratios when it comes to staffing units and floors.

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