SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Mary Hartshorne and her former St. Clare’s coworkers have been writing, calling, and picketing to get Governor Cuomo’s attention for more than a year, but the letter they all got Monday, was not the response they hoped for.
“I was so surprised!” Hartshorne says in a FaceTime call with NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton Wednesday. “I’ll have to be honest, it stung.”
The St. Clare’s pensioners have demanded answers ever since the Schenectady hospital shut down with little warning and no payout of their pensions. Now, they receive a letter from Governor Cuomo, asking for their help to combat the coronavirus.
“He has definitely hurt our feelings by asking us to risk ourselves when we have asked to speak with him for months and months and been totally shut out,” Hartshorne says.
Hartshorne is one of those pensioners who’s also representing the group in a legal battle with the Roman Catholic Dioceses of Albany and the St. Clare’s Corporation. She says they all feel it’s unfair they’ve been asked for favors, meanwhile their court cases were deemed “inessential” and pushed back indefinitely.
“Well guess what? If we continue much longer without our pensions, which in most cases is quite significant in your budget – I know in my case it was – then there’s going to be many people that are going to be in dire straits,” she adds.
Plus, she says they couldn’t come to work at local hospitals even if they wanted to.
“We are working because we can’t afford to retire, due to the lack of our pensions,” she explains. “Also, you know most of us are in the 65 and older age range, so we’re in that very high risk group for the coronavirus. I don’t think that’s a risk any of us are comfortable taking.”
So far, Hartshorne says none of the fellow pensioners she’s spoken to were willing to go back to hospital work. She does believe Governor Cuomo deserves his due.
“I do applaud him for his efforts to respond and get people organized and keep them calm. However, this letter to us, I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I don’t think it was very well thought through,” Hartshorne says.
But she does say at least, some contact is better than nothing.
“Everybody kept telling me, you’ll never get through to the governor he’s too busy. Well, we do have contact. It might not be the road we wanted, but it’s still contact so I do believe there will be some response in one way or another,” she says.