ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — This Labor Day, nurses from Albany Medical Center have gathered for a rally in front of the hospital. They say they could go on strike over their ongoing contract dispute if an agreement is not reached.
They say they want their voices to be heard, demonstrating alongside grateful Capital Region community members holding signs in solidarity.
Albany Med nurses have been negotiating over their contracts for over two years. Since the pandemic started, they say, Albany Med has publicly celebrated them as heroes while privately cutting their hours, staffing, salaries.
“We have a whole host of people here. We have young people, black, white and every walks of faith is here to stand in solidarity with the workers at Albany mMed,” said Albany Councilman Owusu
“I hope that Albany Med will do the right thing and start negotiating seriously with us,” said Patty Pinhto, registered nurse at Albany Med.
The nurses said seeing so many members of the community coming together to support them, makes them want to continue to fight.
“we hope that the Albany Medical Center can see that the community does support the nurses. The nurses who are on the front lines everyday saving peoples lives. This place couldn’t work without the nurses. It’s time that we get the respect that we deserve so that we can give the best care to the patients of this region,” said Karen Gerstenberger, registered nurse at Albany Med.
In response to Monday’s rally Albany Med said,
“Albany Med continues to negotiate in good faith with the New York State Nurses Association. Our 2,500 nurses are the heart of our organization. We understand our mission of patient care, research and education is only possible with the compassionate expertise of our entire workforce. That is why, despite a year-to-date $25.6 million operating loss resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, Albany Medical Center is one of several U.S. hospitals that has not laid off or furloughed any staff.
We must ensure that any contract agreement is both fair to all our employees and fiscally responsible, so that we may continue our mission as our community expects and deserves. Quality and safety are always our highest priorities. All decisions are made to provide a safe environment for patients and employees. During this picket, as at all times, Albany Med will do everything possible to keep our workforce, our patients and our visitors safe. That said, we are concerned that NYSNA did not request a special events permit as required by law for this picket from the City of Albany, particularly when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend collaboration with state and local health officials for events and gatherings. Such a permit would provide important information such as the particular site of picketing. We would have hoped Albany Common Council President Corey Ellis, who is also NYSNA’s Upstate Political Director, respected this guidance for security and safety during the pandemic. Despite this, Albany Med is prepared to do everything in our ability to protect the safety of our workforce, our patients, our visitors and picketers.Albany Medical Center Management
Albany Med nurses say it’s more important than ever to stand up with front line workers.
“The community has been supporting us throughout this whole process. But today’s turnout really shows it and I couldn’t be happier,” said Pinhto.