New York health system nurses approve labor deal

Members of the New York State Nurses Association have approved a new contract with Potsdam, N.Y.-based St. Lawrence Health.

The five-year deal covers 276 nurses within St. Lawrence Health's Massena, Canton-Potsdam and Gouverneur hospitals, according to hospital and union news releases. Voting occurred from May 15-17.

"Nurses in the North Country came together for our patients and our profession," Sue Quinnell, RN, a nurse at Canton-Potsdam Hospital, said in the union release. "Bargaining with nurses from Massena and Gouverneur hospitals empowered us to learn from each other and support each other in our shared fight for fair contracts. With wage increases finally catching up to a higher cost of living and quality health benefits, nurses will want to stay in our community and have a career rooted in providing excellent care for our North Country patients."

The contract includes wage increases of at least 6 percent in the first year and are now part of a consistent wage scale across hospitals, the union said. 

St. Lawrence Health said the contract also enables NYSNA-represented nurses to participate in the union benefit fund, and it increases nurse pay for both evening and weekend shift differentials, as well as on-call shifts. 

St. Lawrence Health President Donna McGregor said in the organization's release: "Reaching the agreement was accomplished in large part because of the long hours and hard work put in by our SLH bargaining team, especially towards the end of the negotiation process. Agreeing upon a five-year contract is an unprecedented accomplishment on its own, and we are proud to have been able to solidify this longevity of terms."

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