Turmoil in NY State Nurses Union

     MANHATTAN (CN) – A nurse who says she won the popular vote for treasurer of the New York State Nurses Association claims the “entrenched regime,” which hurt the union’s 20,000 members by their “ill-advised decisions,” is keeping her out of office through a “legally baseless internal disciplinary process” against her.
     Patricia Kane and two other union members sued the New York State Nurses Association, its CEO Tina Gerardi, and eight members of its board of directors.
     Kane claims she won the Aug. 24 election for treasurer, with 51 percent of the vote in a three-way race. She says she “and her entire slate of candidate swept to a resounding victory over the incumbent leadership and their supporters in the election.”
     Kane says her slate also won the presidency and four seats on the board of directors, but the incumbents refused to recognize it.
     “Faced with the end of their entrenched regime, many of the incumbent officers, directors and top professional staff of NYSNA have retaliated against Kane by consolidating a legally baseless internal disciplinary process with an equally baseless election protest filed by the losing candidates (who are aligned with the entrenched leadership), and using the pendency of the protest process as a pretext for denying Kane and her slate the offices they won in the election,” according to the federal complaint.
     Kane says the incumbents have failed their rank and file: “With collective bargaining agreements covering over 20,000 nurses with major health care industry employers open for months because the incumbent leadership of the New York State Nurses Association (‘NYSNA’) has failed to re-negotiate them, and with many more rank-and-file nurses facing enormous health benefit reductions due to that same leadership’s ill-advised decisions, NYSNA is in crisis.”
     After her slate won, Kane says, the union’s Election Committee sent her a letter informing her of a protest that claimed that she used money from an outside labor organization to promote her candidacy.
     She denies it.
     “At no time has Kane ever used any third party funds or resources to promote her candidacy or oppose others’ candidacies,” the complaint states.
     Kane also has criticized the incumbents for planning to spend millions on an officer at 40 Rector St.
     “Acquisition of the 40 Rector Street property would require a payment by NYSNA of between $4 and $5.5 million at a time when NYSNA faces substantial collective bargaining expenses, with contracts covering more than 22,000 nurses open throughout the health care industry,” the complaint states.
     She says the money would be better used to stave off NYSNA’s “crisis.”
     Kane wants the defendants ordered to seat her and her slate of candidates, and enjoined from pursuing disciplinary action against them. She also wants the union restrained from signing the real estate deal.
     Bronx-based nurses Wendy Braithwaite, of Einstein Medical Center, and Maureen Eisele, of Montefiore Medical Center, joined as co-plaintiffs.
     They allege unlawful discipline and breach of fiduciary duty.
     They are represented by Bruce Levine, with Cohen, Weiss and Simon.

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