St. Clare’s pensioners rally at State Capitol

Local

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Former St. Clare’s hospital workers continue to fight to restore their pulled pensions. On Monday, about 80 of them went to Governor Cuomo’s office to try to get his attention. The Governor, however, was in New York City.

Marty Mack now lives in North Carolina, but she worked at St. Clare’s in Schenectady for 50 years, beginning in high school. She flew into Albany to be at the rally.

“I thought [the Governor] would be here. I think he owes it to us to at least listen. I didn’t expect an answer today, but he should have respected us enough to listen,” said Mack.

She, along with some 1,100 other former employees, had their pensions pulled back in November with just three weeks notice.

“I don’t have enough retirement. I don’t have enough funds to keep me going,” said Terry Cassella.

Maureen Campbell was an RN there for 26 years. She said there are too many unanswered questions and inconsistencies.

“There are people who can’t afford their houses, their healthcare, their meds,” said Campbell.

She said she feels for those who are dealing with the loss of two incomes in one household, like Richard Gorman and his wife Diana. They both worked for the hospital. 

“I’ll be working for a lot longer than I thought I’d ever have to work in order to survive from day to day,” said Gorman.

The state gave $28.5 million to fulfill the pension plan when the hospital shut down in 2008. There was also an estimated $41.3 million in grant funding for employee plans and paying debt. The pensioners said they have a right to know how those funds were used.

They’re hoping that at the very least the “St. Clare’s Pensioners Act” passes before the end of session. The bill would halt the dissolution of the St. Clare’s corporation until an investigation or audit is completed by the state. 

Republican Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh said she’s not confident it will. She said the Governor does not appear to be acknowledging this issue as a priority.

“This is important, too. This is impacting real people in our community, and we need to get this done,” said Assemblywoman Walsh.

The bill is being carried by Republican Senator Jim Tedisco and Democratic Assemblyman Angelo Santabarara. Both agree the fact that the Governor and both speakers of the House and Senate, who have the power to subpoena the information to get to the route of what happened have been totally silent, is a huge red flag.

“They won’t address it, and we have three days to go. That’s criminal by them,” said Senator Tedisco.

“I want to make it clear that this is not a giveaway. This is something they worked for. This is something they are entitled to,” said Assemblyman Santabarbara.

Since the Governor was not in the building to hear their plea in person, the pensioners made sure that their petitions were at least received by someone in his office.

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