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Registered nurses at Olean General Hospital have asked a federal mediator to help resolve their 15-month contract negotiations with hospital administrators. The first meeting with the mediator has been scheduled for Nov. 5.

The 200 registered nurses, who have been negotiating their first contract with the hospital since July 1996, are represented by the New York State Nurses Association. At issue are pay schedules, time off for part-time nurses and job assignments.

The union is asking for "a fair and equitable wage scale, based on seniority and experience as an RN." Registered nurses at Olean General earn significantly less than RNs at other hospitals in the area, the union contends. In addition, the hospital does not have a uniform salary rate for RNs, nor is pay based on seniority.

The union is seeking to lift limits on holiday, vacation and sick time offered to part-time RNs, some of whom work nearly as many hours as full-time nurses.

The union also wants to stop the hospital from transferring RNs to units where they have no training or experience. The union contends that, in the interest of patient safety, the nurses should have training before they are transferred.

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