TAX BILL MAY LOCK SCAB NURSES OUT OF BROOKLYN STRIKE

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Brooklyn’s Long Island College Hospital is girding for a potentially nasty nurse’s strike on Wednesday by hiring 159 replacement RN’s–even though the firm providing the nurses doesn’t have legal authority to operate in New York State.

U.S. Nursing Corp., the Denver-based company that provided nurses during a five-day lockout at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital last year, lost its business authorization nearly two years ago, City Limits has learned.

The financially-troubled LICH has been a labor battleground ever since new CEO Donald Snell arrived late last year and slashed the hospital’s payroll by more than 400 jobs. Eight months ago, Snell gave notice to 500 union nurses that they would have to accept $1.8 million in concessions if they wanted to keep their jobs.

Charging that Snell has not negotiated in good faith–or taken the best interests of patients in mind–the New York State Nurses Association has tentatively scheduled a 7 a.m. strike time on Wednesday. In preparation, Snell has reportedly begun placing beds in administrative offices for replacement nurses. He hired U.S. Nursing, but the replacement worker plan may now be in legal jeopardy. According to New York Secretary of State Alexander Treadwell’s office, U.S. Nursing failed to pay an unspecified amount of franchise tax and had their authority to do business in the state “annulled” on Sept. 27, 1995.

A Treadwell staffer says the reinstatement process will take at least five business days. Sharon Spellman, the hospital’s development director, says U.S. Nursing promises her they’ll provide replacements–even if they have to channel them through a subsidiary company that can operate in New York State. “We’ll have the capacity to operate legally,” she said.

However, she admitted that U.S. Nursing executives had yet to provide her with documentation that the subsidiaries actually exist: “I can’t divulge the names,” Spellman said, “because I don’t know the names of the companies.”