Nurses Association Vows to Fight Back Against Cuts to Healthcare Benefits

Union will seek to remedy cuts with gains at the bargaining table

NEW YORK, June 20, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The employer trustees of the NYSNA Benefits Fund have prevailed in their efforts to decimate the health insurance coverage offered by the fund, a move that the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) sees as part of the coordinated attack on unions and the middle class. The Nurses Association will now take its fight to preserve quality healthcare benefits for registered nurses to the bargaining table.

"We fought as hard as we could to preserve our members' health insurance benefits, but we believe the current climate, with its emphasis on cost-cutting and penalizing workers for the rights and benefits they have sacrificed to achieve, worked against us," said Nurses Association CEO Tina Gerardi, MS, RN, CAE. "We believe that our members should have the right to bargain a wide range of plans at the negotiating table, and we will seek in our bargaining to reduce or eliminate the impact of these cuts."

Arbitrator George Nicolau today issued a decision siding with the employer trustees and replacing all of the existing NYSNA Benefit plans with three new plans that will require employee contributions to the premiums, increase co-pays and mandate drug step therapy.

The NYSNA Benefits Fund provides healthcare coverage for more than 14,000 members in 38 bargaining units. The employer trustees sought significant cuts to the Benefits Fund's stable and cost-effective plans, despite the fact that the fund is not financially stressed. This clearly demonstrates that the hospitals do not believe their registered professional nurses deserve the best healthcare coverage for themselves and their families, despite the nurse's commitment to delivering the best quality health care for their patients every day.

"Like companies and politicians all over the country that are crying poverty while supporting tax breaks for the wealthy, the NYSNA Benefits Fund was clearly an attractive target, but cutting healthcare benefits is short-sighted," Gerardi said.

"The Nurses Association will seek all possible remedies at the bargaining table and will encourage our members and the public to insist employers respect nurses. Being a nurse is rewarding, important work, but it is also physically demanding with the risk of injury, contagious diseases and the threat of violence. Nurses need, deserve and demand quality healthcare benefits."

The three new benefit plans take effect Sept. 1, and nurses will be required to contribute to premiums in contracts as they are renegotiated. In accordance, with the federal Affordable Care Act, preventive care under the new plans will be provided without co-pays.

The New York State Nurses Association is the voice for nursing in the Empire State. With more than 37,000 members, it is New York's largest professional association and union for registered nurses. The association represents registered nurses, and some all-professional bargaining units, in New York and New Jersey. It supports nurses and nursing practice through education, research, legislative advocacy, and collective bargaining.

SOURCE New York State Nurses Association