Nurses Protest/Strike and New Video “A Nightmare on Wall St” on Bankers

UPDATE as of Aug 11, 2012: Per the local newspaper TimesLedger, nurses at St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital in Bayside, Queens, NY (New York City) rally for a new contractHighlights from the news article:

The union said St. Mary’s’ recorded operating revenues were $93 million in 2010 and $4.3 million in profits, according to its most recent tax filing. The protestors, who said they represented more than 300 employees, unified in support of a renewed agreement with the hospital for better benefits, including health insurance and access to education opportunities.

Union workers rally in the rain for a new benefits contract outside St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital. (Photo by Phil Corso at the TimesLedger)

UPDATE as of Feb 14, 2012: New details on the 3-year contract (Jan 1, 2012 to Dec 31, 2014) ratified on Feb 9, 2012 by the nurses at Flushing Hospital in Queens County, NY: (1) the registered nurses will be reinstated to the union pension plan with full credit. (2) The nurses will receive 2 percent wage increases in two stages on July 7, 2013 and July 6, 2014. Hourly per diem rates will also rise. (3) the nurses to contribute between $25 and $100 a month for health insurance coverage. Prescriptions will be filled for free at pharmacies affiliated with MediSys, the parent company of Flushing Hospital. See this LINK for the news containing the terms of the new contract.

UPDATE as of Feb 4, 2012: Tentative deal has been reached for nurses at Flushing Hospital to avert a strike on Feb 7. But no details yet on whether there will be more permanent deal. With a few hospitals shutdown in Queens in recent years (Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica and St. John’s Queens Hospital in Elmhurst), the remaining/surviving hospitals are overcrowded already.

UPDATE as of Feb 3, 2012: Nurses at Flushing Hospital in Queens, NY are set to strike starting at 7:15 am on Tuesday, Feb 7, 2012. See the press release regarding this strike in this LINK  There was a rally outside of Flushing Hospital on Feb 2, 2012 with two local politicians (whose districts include Flushing) at the rally: Grace Meng (NYS Assembly, Democrat) and Toby Ann Stavisky (NY State Senate, Democrat) expressing their concerns about nurses rights and patients safety if the negotiation is not resolved.

UPDATE as of Jan 6, 2012:  new YouTube video called, “A Nightmare on Wall Street” presented by National Nurses United.  See this LINK for the YouTube video.  

FYI, besides the Nurses Protest set for Tuesday, Dec 20 in New York City. There will be a one day strike by California nurses on Thursday, Dec 22 across the entire state of California.

Read this news link from the Los Angeles Times Blog about the one-day strike by nurses in California. Thousands of registered nurses across California will strike for one day this week over myriad issues they say include predatory cuts that affect patient care, unsuccessful contract negotiations and rising healthcare premium costs.

WHAT: Nurses to protest the practices of Cerberus Capital Management (the multi-billion dollar private equity firm’s) health care unit, Steward Health Care System, from targeting hospitals for profit.

WHEN: Tuesday, Dec 20 at 12:30PM

WHERE: Cerberus Capital Management, 299 Park Ave in Manhattan, NY

Nurses Rally against Wall St. Targeting Hospitals for Profits

NEW YORK, Dec. 19 — National Nurses United issued the following news release:
Hundreds of nurses and their supporters from across the U.S. will converge outside the offices of Cerberus Capital Management, 299 Park Avenue, on Tuesday, Dec. 20, at 12:30 p.m., to protest the practices of the multi-billion dollar private equity firm’s health care unit, Steward Health Care System. Cerberus-Steward now operates 10 hospitals in Massachusetts, has partnered with a number of physician practices here, and is now entering the health insurance market as well. Cerberus-Steward has come under increasing criticism for cornering the market with predatory practices, undercutting patient care with its push for profits. The nurses — from Massachusetts, and joined by RNs from NY, DC, CA, Il, PA and NV — are members of National Nurses United, the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in the U.S., with 170,000 members. Nurses, allies and Occupy Wall Street protesters will speak at the rally, which will also feature theater and a 10-foot, three-headed dog, “Cerberus,” the mythical canine at the Gates of Hell. “As patient advocates on the frontlines, nurses are sounding the alarm about the entrance of cut-throat private equity firms, like Cerberus, into the health care marketplace,” said Karen Higgins, RN and co-president, National Nurses United. “It is a development that spells danger for patients and communities across the country.” Cerberus owns an array of businesses, including the Freedom Group subsidiary – leading manufacturer of guns and ammunition. Last year it added the chain of hospitals to its portfolio. Nurses who work at those hospitals say that Cerberus-Steward has failed to maintain quality patient care standards at the Massachusetts facilities in contravention of an agreement reached with the state and with its employees. The okay for the profit maker to take control of the non-profit facilities was tied to keeping patient care a top priority. The company makes daily threats to close services or entire hospitals in direct violation of its assurances to the state as a condition of entering the marketplace. The nurses report a number of alarming changes since Cerberus-Steward took over. Staffing levels have been reduced, specialty units for the care of specific conditions have been eliminated , and patients are treated like products on an assembly line. Even the most basic supplies are not available when nurses need them; for example bread, crackers and juice (which nurses need to stabilize diabetic patients) are no longer available on the floors.
Some nurses who spoke out to protect their patients have been fired, in direct violation of federal labor law. To its RNs, Cerberus-Steward reneged on its contract, dropping the promised defined benefit pension plan–a benefit promised to keep RNs on the job. It is threatening to cut health benefits to some nurses, as well.
Earlier this month, Cerberus-Steward announced a partnership with Compass Medical, a group of 90 doctors. This fall, Steward bought into Whittier Independent Practice Association and its 150 MDs. A protest by community hospital groups to Massachusetts AG Martha Coakley said these purchases “violate the assurance by Steward that such apparent predatory actions against community hospitals would not take place.”


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