NY labor disputes heat up

Clashes between New York hospitals and labor unions are beginning to intensify, according to the Albany Business Review.

Last week, talks collapsed between Natthan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home in Fulton County and the New York City-based New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), which represents 154 nurses at the hospital system. Hospital officials filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board Friday, which union officials said was without merit, according to the article.

Contract talks have been hamstrung by unrealistic demands from the union since they began last November, Lana Wydra, vice president of human resources for Natthan Littauer, told the Albany Business Journal. "What concerns us is that there seems to be an ulterior agenda which doesn't help us as far as being able to sit down at the table and really have a fair negotiations process," she said, adding the stalemate is the worst she's seen during the six years she has overseen union negotiations. "What [hospital management] don't want to see is a strike, and that is again part of our frustration," she said.

The NYSNA also recently filed paperwork seeking to organize 250 workers at St. Mary's Healthcare in nearby Amsterdam. However these union-provider conflicts end, the outcome will likely set the tone for hiring practices in a post-Affordable Care Act landscape. Last week a contract was finalized to avert a one-day strike by 70,000 New York City healthcare workers.

Nurses' labor struggles in this century reflect those of auto workers in the 20th century, according to a recent essay in The Economist. This is specifically reflected in their unions' struggles with management, including the New York clashes and the threat of a strike from 400 unionized nurses and technicians in New Mexico at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

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