Nurses Picket over Switch to 403(b)

July 15, 2011 ( - Eastern Niagara Hospital-Lockport registered nurses picketed outside the hospital last week in a fight to keep the retirement plan they say the hospital is threatening to take away due to financial challenges.

The Tonawanda News reports that the issue is a management demand to freeze the hospital’s long standing pension plan and move to a 403(b), in which it will pay two percent of the nurses’ salary.  

Bruce Popper, a vice president with the nurses union, 1199SEIU United Health Care Workers East, called the substitute a “far inferior” plan, according to the news report.  

In addition, currently a nurse with 25 years of service at ENH can retire at age 62, however the hospital is looking to cut that option and there is currently no early retirement incentive. The hospital is also seeking to shift more health insurance costs onto nurses.  

According to a statement released by Eastern Niagara Hospital-Lockport, economic challenges require the hospital to make changes to nurses’ benefits, retirement and additional financial services, the news report said.