NEW YORK NURSE: November 2010
by Robin Wood
The New York State Department of Labor (DOL) has filed a claim in Federal Bankruptcy Court against St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan, which closed in April, for violating state labor laws that govern mass layoffs. The nearly $49 million dollar claim seeks to secure 60-days back pay and benefits for the 3,000 hospital workers who lost their jobs and were not given proper notification of the hospital’s closing.
Under the New York State Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), employers are required to give 90 days’ notice to workers before a mass layoff. The bankruptcy court is scheduled to hear the claim on Dec. 16. NYSNA vigorously opposed plans to close St. Vincent’s and continues to support a local hospital for the St. Vincent’s community.
The DOL claim is “very encouraging,” said Yetta Kurland, an attorney working with Coalition for a New Village Hospital, the grassroots group advocating for a new full-service hospital on the lower west side of Manhattan. Kurland said the DOL claim is an affirmative determination that the St. Vincent’s closure was not handled correctly. The coalition hopes the DOL claim will encourage the Attorney General to re-examine the legality of closing St. Vincent’s.
“We are not going to give up,” said Lorraine Seidel, MA, RN, director of NYSNA’s Economic and General Welfare program. “The people of New York’s Lower West Side need and deserve a hospital and our members want to work in their own community.”