Albany Med nurses preparing to strike over contract dispute

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Officials at Albany Medical Center are preparing for more cases of COVID-19 and a potential one-day strikes of it’s nurses.

The New York State Nurses Association is calling for immediate action to protect their patients and themselves. For 24 hours, on December 1, nurses of the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) will strike at Albany Med. Many nurses are demonstrating for better wages and benefits.

Lenore Granich-Berghela a nurse at Albany Med says she has made her voice heard several times during demonstrations.

“I have been a nurse at Albany Med for 15 years. I love my job, my coworkers, and my patients,” said Granich-Berghela. 

Lenore says it’s hard to hold back tears when she feels she and her fellow nurses are not being treated fairly.

“We are asking for a decent wage, a decent benefits package, and a retirement package. We want to be able to retire with dignity and take care of our families,” she said.

Lenore says the nurses have been trying to secure a contract over two-and-a-half years. She says the bulk of the reason why they’re striking for 24 hours is because of the unfair labor practices that she says she is experiencing with the hospital. 

“We are asking for appropriate PPE so we don’t get sick and we don’t bring it home to our families,” she said.

NEWS10 ABC reached out to Albany Med for comment on Tuesday regarding the negotiation process. They referred us to their presser that was held on Friday, November 20 pertaining to the upcoming strike.

Albany Med released a statement that read in part:

“Albany Med has negotiated in good faith with NYSNA for more than two years in an effort to reach an agreement. Albany Med presented a fair contract to the union; that contract was rejected. The proposal reflected Albany Med’s fundamental principles of safety, fairness, fiscal responsibility, and quality. It included a merit plan allowing three percent pay raises for the next three years, a competitive contract for our local market, staffing levels to national benchmarks, and individual choice regarding union membership.”

Albany Med officials are also questioning the timing of the strike.

“To have a strike in the middle of a pandemic for baseless reasons is totally irresponsible,” said Dr. Dennis P. McKenna, Albany Med CEO.

Albany Med says they maintain it’s position that any agreement must be fair to all employees and to all their nurses.

Lenore says, with the holidays approaching, she is fearful of what is to come if an agreement can’t be reached.

“I just feel like it’s a slap in the face, and it’s just heartbreaking,” she said.

Officials say a strike will not interfere with patient care and safety.

“They look forward to resolving our differences fairly. Albany Med remains a partner in the community. It is a role we take most seriously.”

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