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VNS-NY nurses unanimously approve new contract

The 50 licensed practical nurses working for the Visiting Nurse Service of New York — all members of the Federation of Nurses/UFT — were smiling as they voted unanimously on Jan. 28 to ratify a two-year contract that increases wages and retains full employer-paid medical insurance for nurses and their dependents.

Health care premiums rose 17 percent since the last contract was signed in 2011, and management agreed to match the increase dollar for dollar.

Nurses also won wage increases to their base salary. The new contract contains a 1.25 percent pay increase retroactive to Jan. 1, the first day of the contract, and an additional 1.5 percent increase payable on July 1, 2014. During the six weeks of bargaining, VNS management had proposed a lump-sum payment in lieu of a wage increase.

“We were pleased to get an on-time contract on behalf of these hardworking professionals who are certainly deserving,” said Federation of Nurses Special Representative Anne Goldman.

The union’s 10-member bargaining team was, as usual, a mix of new and veteran negotiators. LPN Leslie Hylaris said it was her second time at the bargaining table.

“The first time it was all new to me, so I took my cues from the others,” she said. “This time I was prepared. I knew what to expect. I spoke up much more, saying ‘this is what we want.’”

Management listened, and the VNS licensed practical nurses got what they needed.

The next contract fight facing the Federation of Nurses/UFT: bargaining by registered nurses at Brooklyn’s Lutheran Medical Center on a new contract. The current agreement expires on March 1.

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