For Immediate Release
Contact: Mark Genovese, 518.782.9400, ext 353
SPRINGVILLE, June 29, 2011 – After years of financial difficulties, the administration of Bertrand Chaffee Hospital and Jennie B. Richmond Nursing Home is trying to balance its budget by demanding $500,000 in cuts to wages and benefits of unionized employees.
These givebacks wouldn’t be intended to just tide the facility over until it regains its financial footing, management wants them to be permanent. Chaffee and Richmond employees are concerned that such cuts would hurt the facilities’ ability to recruit and retain staff. This is why the employees are holding an informational picket on Wednesday, July 6, from 2 to 5:30 p.m., in front of the facility at 222-224 East Main St.
The 200 employees are represented by the New York State Nurses Association and 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. The joint union bargaining committee has been in contract negotiations with management since early March. A federal mediator has been involved since May 12.
The workers are asking for management to balance the budget in a responsible manner that maintains quality health care for patients and that provides fair wages and benefits.
“Our goal is to keep our clients healthy and provide quality healthcare locally and conveniently,” said Robin Conner, RN, a Chaffee employee since 1974. “My colleagues and I love working at this facility and we consider it a privilege to care for this community. Many of us have spent our entire nursing careers here. We’ve worked in cooperation with management over the years and would continue to do so. But our current CEO has rejected all our efforts to reach a common ground.”
“Management's position is not reasonable,” added Martha Spaulding, a union delegate who has worked as an operating room tech for 25 years. “It would impact our ability to retain and recruit good employees. Some areas are already experiencing high turnover.”
Experienced RNs at Chaffee and Richmond are paid at about the same level as new graduate nurses in surrounding hospitals. This gap has Chaffee nurses concerned because research has shown that reducing services results in lack of access to what for many is necessary care.
Employees have been working with management for several years to keep the hospital open. They say they’ve already done their part to share the sacrifice and have even offered concessions totaling $200,000. Now, the hospital must do more to increase its flow of revenue. Both unions believe that there are other ways to close the budget gap. “We want the facility to thrive, not just survive," Conner said.
The New York State Nurses Association is the voice for nursing in the Empire State. With more than 37,000 members, it is New York’s largest professional association and union for registered nurses. The association represents registered nurses, and some all-professional bargaining units, in New York and New Jersey. It supports nurses and nursing practice through education, research, legislative advocacy, and collective bargaining.
Representing more than 350,000 healthcare workers throughout, New York, Massachusetts Maryland, New Jersey, Florida, and Washington, D.C., 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in America. 1199SEIU represents more than 15,000 hospital, nursing home, and home care workers in Western New York. Our mission is to achieve affordable, high quality healthcare for all.
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