Open Letter from Striking Nurses at Queens

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Do you want to know what’s keeping us apart from Queen’s?

*The hospital’s refusal to address the issues of short staffing and mandatory overtime indicates it is not putting patients first


*If the hospital truly valued us, it would have negotiated a fair contract and we would not be out on strike

*The hospital is offering us ”’worse”’ benefits than what we already have, but repackaging it to make it look as if it is offering us more

*The hospital’s proposed reduction in our retirement package will ultimately penalize us with lower pensions, while putting billions into its pockets

*The Paid Time Off (PTO) system makes us use earned vacation time when we are sick, while the hospital saves money. It also creates incentives for us to come to work when we are sick and can make patients and co-workers sick

These are the things that Queen’s can and must do to bring us together:

*Have fewer patients per nurse so we can do a good and safe job

*Get rid of mandatory overtime, as it is proven to cause patient deaths

*Bring all of its negotiators (not just 2 or 3) to bargaining, including front-line nurse managers to negotiate a fair contract

*Stop combining issues we agreed upon with others we rejected. Take-it-or-leave-it packages leave no room for honest negotiations

*Stop thinking with a “corporate mentality” and ”’listen”’ to your “valued” nurses’ suggestions for patient care

*Stop short staffing. This is short-sighted and has been proven to lead to longer patient stays, increased patient ”’deaths,”’ and increased numbers of lawsuits

To the Queen’s management, as we informed you at the December 16th negotiations, we had ”’no”’ problem with your wage proposal. ”’You”’ refused to honor this proposal!

If the Directors of the Queen’s Medical Center are so interested in their corporate bottom line, perhaps they need to review their own salaries.

These salaries range from $149,500 for working 40 hours a week in the case of the V.P. of Patient Care to $441,000 for working ”’one hour”’ a week in the case of a Trustee (taken from the Queen’s 2000 Federal Form 990).

We are asking the hospital to give nurses a chance to be there for our patients. Hospitals will save money in the long run if they invest in quality nursing care. Nurses are the best asset the hospital can have to ensure quality patient care. Stop pushing us onto the picket lines, into permanent jobs at other facilities, and out of the nursing profession altogether with your bad policy decisions.