New York nurses union files unfair labor charges, seeks data on coronavirus-infected healthcare workers

A union representing 42,000 nurses in New York state is urging several hospitals to provide COVID-19 data on healthcare workers, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The New York State Nurses Association filed labor charges July 7 with the National Labor Relations Board regional offices, seeking this information from hospitals in New York City-based Mount Sinai and NewYork-Presbyterian health systems, the newspaper reports. Labor charges also were filed against Interfaith Medical Center, Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center and Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, all in New York City.

By filing the labor charges, the union said it seeks to get a clearer picture of how many healthcare workers in New York City have been infected with COVID-19 since early March and prepare for a potential second wave, according to the Journal. Numbers it wants include how many union nurses reported COVID-19 symptoms, received tests and tested positive. It also wants to know how many union workers have been off work sick for any amount of time during the pandemic.

In a separate labor charge filed July 7, the union seeks data on nurse infections from Valhalla, N.Y.-based Westchester Medical Center. But the newspaper said obtaining such information may be challenging partially due to testing shortages early during the pandemic.

The union estimates at least 22 New York State Nurses Association members have died of COVID-19, and data provided to the union shows more than 2,000 New York City healthcare workers have been sickened or had to leave work at two hospital systems for reasons related to the pandemic.

A spokesperson for Westchester Medical Center, told the Journal in an email: "Our staff has tested positive for COVID-19 at a level consistent with or lower than community spread." 

The spokesperson added that "our practices (and these statistics) have been shared with NYSNA repeatedly, both informally and formally."

A spokesperson for Interfaith Medical Center told the newspaper the hospital expects to comply with the union's request for information.

Mount Sinai, NewYork-Presbyterian and the other hospitals didn't immediately provide comment to the publication.

This is not the first time the union has taken legal action during the pandemic.

The union also filed three lawsuits against the state and two hospitals in April, alleging they failed to provide adequate protection for healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients.

 

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