Nathan Littauer Hospital plans lockout of striking NYSNA nurses

GLOVERSVILLE – Nathan Littauer Hospital has announced this morning it will institute a lockout of all registered nurses with the New York State Nurses Association following a planned two-day strike in September by the union

According to a “Facts of the Matter” sheet sent by the hospital this morning, all 112 NYSNA nurses who go out on strike starting at 7 a.m. on Sept. 1 will be locked out of their jobs until 6:45 a.m. on Sept. 6.

NYSNA nurses have announced they are planning a two-day strike for Sept. 1 and 2.

“This time, all of the NYSNA-held nurses will not be allowed to work or be on campus during those five days,” NLH hospital said in a statement. “Just like last January, all services of the hospital, nursing home and our outpatient centers will be open and safely staffed. Everyone will pitch-in to care for the patients who need us and be augmented by nurses from a staffing agency.”

NYSNA nurses at NLH are scheduled to strike alongside St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Utica, which will strike for one day on Sept. 1.

Union nurses at Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown were planning a one-day strike as well on Sept. 1, but reached an agreement with their hospital on Thursday.

This will be the second lockout event for the hospital, which also locked out nurses in January following a one day strike.

Following the last NYSNA strike on Jan. 6, the hospital instituted a partial lockout of nurses who went on strike until Jan. 11.

No reason has been given for the lockout. During that time, nurses continued to demonstrate outside the hospital and were joined by political and community leaders.

Following the first day of the January lockout, the union filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board.

The hospital and union settled those charged April 15, with the hospital agreeing to provide back pay, with interest, to 60 nurses totaling $44,544. The settlement was not an admission of guilt on the part of the hospital.

“We thought it was necessary to do this to push the union to finally be reasonable and accept our proposal. We also thought it was the right thing to do since we thought that nurses who had the day off during the one-day strike could picket or do anything they wanted on their day off,” NLH writes in its statement. “Those non-striking nurses who wanted to care for their patients were allowed to work their scheduled shifts during the partial lockout. Only striking nurses were locked out. The union disagreed, and the National Labor Relations Board sided with NYSNA indicating that the partial lockout was not permissible. Given this, we feel we have no other choice but to lock all nurses out.”

The hospital also announced that it has informed the union and the 35 nurses who are still in the Defined Benefit Pension Plan that the Plan will be frozen at their earned benefit level on September 30, 2016.

“The 35 will join the other 77 nurses in the 403-b Plan that most of the rest of us have,” the hospital writes.

The hospital and union have been negotiating a new contract for more than two years. The two sides have different opinions on staffing levels, health insurance and pensions.

“This is deja vu all over again – the registered nurses at Nathan Littauer Hospital continue to fight for proper staffing so that the patients get the care they deserve, and [Nathan Littauer] continues to ignore the nurses and ignore the facts by threatening another lock-out,” Nathan Littauer Hospital RN Marion Enright said in a statement sent by the NYSNA. “The residents of Gloversville should be outraged and should demand that management do what’s right: give the nurses a fair contract that includes adequate staffing.”