Licensed Practical Nurses who are members of the Federation of Nurses/UFT overwhelmingly ratified a two-year contract with the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY) in which the union made no concessions while achieving a salary increase and negotiating regular consultation meetings.
The contract went into effect on Feb. 1, 2021, and runs through January 2022.
“We have achieved another on-time contract protecting our pension benefits and obtaining good economic and working conditions,” said UFT Vice President Anne Goldman, who leads the Federation of Nurses/UFT. “Our union is committed to protecting and supporting our hard-working members at all times and this is another example of our success when we are united, focused and strategic.”
The contract preserves the pension benefits of current employees as well as new hires. “We stressed we were not moving on pensions no matter what they offered,” said Leslie Hylaris, a VNSNY hospice nurse and a member of the negotiating committee.
The deal also includes two 3% raises, the first effective on Sept. 1, 2021, and the second on July 1, 2022. Each member will see at least a $3,300 salary hike over the life of the contract.
Members with five and 10 years’ experience as a Licensed Practical Nurse will get an increase in their respective differentials. A new differential, valued at $2,400, was negotiated for members with 15 years’ experience.
Another contract provision provides for quarterly consultation meetings between the chapter and management, with the option for more if needed.
The contract creates a preceptor program in which experienced Licensed Practical Nurses train and support new hires. These nurses will have $2.50 per hour added to their hourly rate of pay. The rate will also increase from $8 to $9 per hour for any nurse with a per diem assignment whose patient is not home for the visit.
Visiting Nurse Service Chapter Leader Karen Boothe, an acute care nurse in the VNS Certified Home Health Agency, said she and her fellow negotiating committee members were proud of what they achieved at the bargaining table.
The contract, she said, showed “an understanding and respect from VNS when it comes to salary and acknowledgment of the struggles LPNs had during the pandemic and how effective they were for VNS.”
Hylaris said she and Boothe stressed union solidarity in their work on the bargaining committee.
“When Karen and I sit down, we say we have to take care of each other,” Hylaris said of the negotiations. “I feel like this is what a union means, ultimately, to take care of each other.”