CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Mary Hartshorne, leader of the St. Clare’s pensioners, rarely holds back when you ask her about the struggles she and her fellow former hospital workers have been facing for years.
She and over a thousand other Schenectady health care workers were left without their retirement money in 2018.
Hartshorne was disappointed, but not surprised, to see another state budget without funds or solutions allocated to making her group whole.
“Again, why are we left out? I don’t get it,” Hartshorne told NEWS10.
Additionally, when the Diocese of Albany announced they filed for bankruptcy in March, putting a hold on the pensioners’ lawsuit, she felt it was a blow to her years of progress. According to the pensioners’ lawyers, they were just a couple of weeks away from a significant milestone in the case.
A committee of unsecured creditors, which consists of five St. Clare’s pensioners, filed a motion in the bankruptcy proceeding to lift the automatic stay on the state court action.
“It was bad enough when St. Clare’s Hospital workers were told they wouldn’t be getting pensions they were counting on. Now the Diocese has avoided its responsibilities again by declaring bankruptcy. AARP Foundation is fighting to ensure these hard-working hospital employees will still get their day in court,” said Meryl Grenadier, Senior Attorney at AARP Foundation.
The motion is an attempt to return the case to state court, where the Attorney General’s case will be moving forward, and where it would be heard by a judge who is familiar with the issues.
The committee of five pensioners, which does not include Hartshorne, represents the worst of the domino effect caused by the loss of retirement money.
“People that nearly lost everything or are on the brink of losing everything,” Hartshorne said, “that’s what we’re talking about. That’s the urgency of why we need this to move forward.”
Urgency piles on, with the sad reality that as the years go on without a solution, there will be fewer living pensioners to see an end result.
A beloved member of the St. Clare’s family passed away recently.
“I don’t want to hear about people’s obituaries. I don’t want to hear that we’re losing people when we still don’t have our pension,” Hartshorne said, “our rightful pension.”
A hearing on the motion filed by the pensioners’ attorneys is slated for June 14th.
If it is not granted, it will be up to the bankruptcy court to sort this out, which, according to the AARP Foundation attorneys, would likely delay things for everyone.
NEWS10 reached out to the Diocese of Albany for comment, and according to their Director of Communications, they are aware of the motion filed by the pensioners, adding that the Diocese will respond to the court and parties, as required, by June 7th.
You can read the full court document regarding the motion, here: