St. Luke's-Roosevelt Nurses Threaten Strike Next Month

Despite negotiating overnight and into the early morning hours on Thursday, nurses at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital said they've been unable to reach a contract agreement with management, and are now threatening to strike on January 3.

At issue are wages, staffing and benefits for the hospital's 1,300 nurses, according to Bernie Mulligan, a spokesman for the New York State Nurses Association. He said the union's still hoping for a resolution that doesn't involve a strike.

"It's also our hope that we'll be able to get back to the table, resolve some of these sticky issues, so that we don't have to go through the strike experience, which is very difficult for our patients who our members care about deeply," he said.

Mulligan said the two sides have been negotiating since last December, and have held 25 bargaining sessions.

In a statement, Stanley Brezenoff, the president and CEO of the hospital's parent company Continuum Health Partners, Inc., called the threat of a strike "distressing."

Brezenoff said management "put forward a very substantive economic offer," but that the union "continues to insist that nurses receive health benefits that are more generous than anyone else in the industry."

He said Continuum is working with a nursing agency, to make sure the hospital is fully staffed in the event of a strike.

"We will operate our hospitals at full capacity and ensure that we are ready and able to care for all patients who rely on us for their medical care," he said. "We will not permit a nursing strike to cause a disruption to patient care."