By LEVI PASCHER
Fulton County Express

GLOVERSVILLE –  The New York State Nurses Association and Nathan Littauer Hospital have announced their nurses approved a new multi-year contract following a ratification vote on Thursday, according to a release.
Both the hospital and the union previously announced they mutually agreed to a new deal last Tuesday that averted the strike and lockout that were scheduled to start last week.
The new contract will be replacing the previous contract that expired almost three years ago. According to the release, the seven-year contract spans the period from Jan. 1, 2014 through Dec. 31, 2020.
“After almost three years without a contract, this is truly a great moment for me and my colleagues as well as a win for the patients of Nathan Littauer Hospital,” Registered Nurse at Nathan Littauer Hospital Marion Enright said in a prepared statement. “The new contract enacts new rules and guidelines that make huge strides in putting more nurses at the bedside of the patients, so we can do what we do best: help our neighbors when they need it the most.”
According to the union release, the contract will address the nurses call for safe staffing levels within the hospital and nursing home. The release stated the contract takes “clear steps” including the creation of a Nurse Resource Team to fix safe staffing concerns in the future.
However, the hospital claims it has always been adequately staffed and no staffing increases were included within the contract.
“Littauer patients and community should know Nathan Littauer Hospital & Nursing Home has always been safely staffed and will continue to be,” the hospital said in a Friday release. “No staffing increases were required as part of this new contract. We are also pleased to report that we have negotiated future pay increases as well as pension and health insurance changes both sides find equitable and fair. The agreement ensures our ability to remain a strong and stable healthcare organization.”
“The contract also calls for adequate pay and proper benefits for the nurses so that we can hire and retain the staff that we need to give the patients the care that they deserve,” Enright stated in the release. “I would like to thank the community for standing by us through thick and thin,  and we look forward to working with Nathan Littauer management as we continue to serve the great people of Gloversville.”
According to NYSNA, the contract features wage increases of more than 8.5 percent as well as healthcare and pension improvements for all employees.
The negotiating teams had been meeting with a federal mediator last week for a final bargaining session before the strike, which was scheduled to start on Thursday morning.
However, the tentative agreement resulted in both parties withdrawing the previous strike and lockout notices that had been issued.
NLH management and NYSNA had been negotiating a new contract since the previous contract expired Dec. 31, 2013.
Nathan Littauer said hospital staff and administration are happy to be moving forward with a unified focus on caring for patients.
“We are looking forward to putting the past two-and-a half years behind us,” the hospital said in the release.
The NYSNA nurses previously organized a one-day unfair labor practice strike on Wednesday, Jan. 6. After the one-day strike, hospital management locked the NYSNA nurses out of the facility for an additional four days.
The members of the New York State Nurses Association announced last month the nurses had authorized a second strike that was supposed to start Sept. 1. The hospital had said the 112 union-held nurses who walked off the job on Thursday, Sept. 1 would have been locked out until Tuesday, Sept. 6.
The union initially announced the planned two-day strike along with two other hospitals planning one-day strikes the same day at both Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown and St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica.
Both of those strikes were also withdrawn after each hospital ratified a new collective bargaining agreement last week.