St. Lawrence Health, nurses union remain at odds over staffing levels

St. Lawrence Health, New York State Nursing Association
Published: Apr. 21, 2023 at 5:58 AM EDT
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POTSDAM, New York (WWNY) - St. Lawrence Health says it is making progress towards a contract agreement with New York State Nursing Association represented nurses, but NYSNA says it is still demanding safer staffing levels.

Nurses and supporters from across St. Lawrence County picketed outside Massena Hospital Thursday afternoon.

NYSNA says the message was “no safe staffing, no contract.”

The two sides met to negotiate for the 26th time this week, but the hospital system says it’s the first time they had a mediator to help.

SLH says its most recent offer includes a healthcare option that the union was pushing for.

It says it hopes the addition will be a major step towards a deal.

It also proposed a five-year wage increase beginning with an immediate 6% increase upon ratification. That’s followed by lower-percentage increases in the following years: 5% in 2024, 4% in 2025, 3% in 2026, and 3% in 2027.

While both SLH and the union say talks are progressing, NYSNA says safe staffing and enforcement is a must for nurses in the next contract.

It says the current situation is unsafe for patients and hurts nurse recruitment and retention.

The hospital system has maintained that staffing shortages aren’t unique to SLH. Hospitals across the state, SLH says, are unable to adequately staff their facilities.