For Immediate Release
Contact: Mark Genovese, 518.782.9400, ext. 353
MANHATTAN, March 17, 2008 – With bounced paychecks, canceled health insurance, and no severance pay, Cabrini Medical Center virtually abandoned its loyal, long-time employees as it prepared for a closing mandated by the state Berger Commission.
The hospital was scheduled to close its doors today. But the registered nurses who cared for patients at the facility have been struggling for weeks with a hospital administration that repeatedly failed to meet its obligations to its staff. Now they’re calling on the New York State Department of Health to step in to protect workers.
The union representing Cabrini’s registered nurses, the New York State Nurses Association, has filed an unfair labor practice (ULP) charge against the medical center with the National Labor Relations Board and has called on the New York State Department of Health to intervene so employees don’t pay for the forced closure of the facility.
“Cabrini has mismanaged this closing and the state has failed to ensure that employees are treated fairly, as is required by the Berger Commission law,” said NYSNA nursing representative Mary Lou Cahill.
Since January, nurses have been fired without notice and many have received no severance or accrued pay. For the 65 RNs who remained at Cabrini until the very end, their paychecks bounced three times over the past two months. Their health insurance was cut off because the hospital failed to pay premiums. They paid for continuing coverage out of their own pockets, and the hospital refused to reimburse them.
The state law implementing the commission’s plan for closures and consolidations required that grants be available to help cover the costs of owed wages and benefits such as health insurance. Cabrini applied for funding from the state, in which it promised to make good on its obligations to its staff. But it did not keep its word.
“This is the messy reality of a forced hospital closing,” Cahill said. “These registered nurses are not numbers on a balance sheet or statistics in the Berger Commission report. They have a right to receive the benefits promised to them by their contract and by state law.”
With more than 36,000 members, the New York State Nurses Association is the nation's oldest and largest state nurses’ association. NYSNA fosters high standards of nursing education, research, and practice; engages in legislative activity; and provides collective bargaining services to registered nurses. Its mission is to advance the profession of nursing and protect the public's health.