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Nurses return to work after strike, but still no contract
Monday, January 11, 2016

By Claire Hughes The Times Union Sides seem no closer to resolving 2-year contract dispute. Registered nurses at Nathan Littauer Hospital returned to work Monday following a one-day strike on Jan. 6 and a five-day lockout by hospital administrators. In a statement, hospital officials said the nurses' transition back to work was smooth. Striking nurses were replaced by temporary staff from an outside agency over the five-day lockout. Yet the two sides do not seem any closer to resolving a contract dispute that has gone on for two years. A statement from the hospital Monday said administrators hope the nurses' union, the New York State Nurses Association, will accept the "fair proposals" it has offered. NYSNA, which represents 137 RNs at the 74-bed site, called hospital management "intransigent," saying officials refuse to set a time to renew bargaining talks. Publicly, the nurses have identified adequate staffing and protection of benefits as their primary concerns. Hospital officials have said the nurses have refused proposals for increased staff and are pushing for better compensation than afforded to other non-union staff. A May 2015 memorandum from the National Labor Relations Board identifies an impasse in negotiations stemming from mid-2014 that centers on the nurses' benefit package. Over the two years that the nurses have been without a contract, NYSNA has filed 15 unfair labor practices charges against hospital officials, according to Barney Horowitz, the NLRB's resident officer in Albany. Eight were dismissed or withdrawn, two were settled after being found to have merit and four are awaiting further review. One charge, determined to have merit, is scheduled for a Feb. 22 hearing. It involves hospital administrators' bypassing NYSNA to bargain directly with some employees.

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