Licensed practical nurses at the Visiting Nurse Service of New York — members of the Federation of Nurses/UFT — unanimously ratified a two-year contract on Jan. 30 that provides a 4 percent pay increase in year one and another 4 percent in year two.
“This is the largest pay raise we have ever seen,” Chapter Leader Karen Booth said. “It’s finally recognition of the vital work licensed practical nurses provide to the patients served by VNSNY.”
Howard Sandau, a special representative for the Federation of Nurses/UFT and a member of the negotiating team, described the month-long struggle for the new contract as “intense.”
“It was a bitter fight to the end,” he said, “with the employer trying to shift the $450-a-month cost of family health coverage to our members.”
The contract, which covers 70 VNS nurses, preserves health and pension benefits, provides short- and long-term disability insurance at no cost and enhances the prescription drug benefit. The final agreement also creates a new 10-year longevity differential of $1,654. The hourly pay rate for continuous-care nurses doing hospice-care shifts will increase 2 percent.
Under the new contract, per-diem nurses who follow proper procedures in making a home visit and arrive to find the patient is not at home will now receive a payment of $8 for the visit attempt — before, they were not compensated. Special union leave will also be granted to nurses who participate in disaster relief efforts.
The Federation of Nurses/UFT represents more than 2,100 nurses employed by the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, Staten Island University Hospital South, New York University Langone-Brooklyn Hospital and other private-sector health care providers.