For Immediate Release
Contact: Mark Genovese, 518.782.9400, Ext. 353
WHITE PLAINS, Sept. 6, 2007 – The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) has filed a lawsuit against Westchester County officials for canceling a bus advertisement arranged for by nurses who work for the Westchester County Healthcare Corporation (WCHCC).
“The cancellation of this ad was a deliberate attempt by the county to silence Westchester nurses. It was meant to intimidate our members, and this is why we’ve taken it to court,” said Kevin Smith, RN, NYSNA nursing representative.
Papers in the lawsuit were submitted to Westchester County Supreme Court on Sept 6. The lawsuit names WCHCC, the County of Westchester, County Executive Andrew J. Spano, the County Transportation Department, Transportation Commissioner Lawrence C. Salley, and Titan Worldwide, the advertising vendor for the county-owned Bee-Line bus system.
In June 2007, NYSNA signed a contract with Titan Worldwide to buy advertising space on several Bee-Line buses. A Titan representative advised NYSNA that the county might “give you a hard time” if the advertisement was negative or aggressive. The contract also provided that any advertising copy be subject to approval by the transit authority.
NYSNA responded that the bus advertisement would not be aggressive or negative. The final ad consisted of a picture of three smiling nurses in scrubs accompanied by the message: “We save lives every day. Westchester Medical Center nurses need a FAIR contract. It’s a matter of RESPECT.”
But prior to the ad’s appearance, NYSNA received word that the county had rejected the ad because “it was too controversial.” NYSNA was not given any further explanation of the rejection, nor was it given copies of any written policies or guidelines for advertising that would be acceptable.
Commissioner Salley said in a media interview that the county’s policy forbids several types of advertisements on the bus line, including ads for firearms, tobacco, alcohol, political candidates, and anything that advocates positions about controversial public issues. He said NYSNA’s ad, “would fall into the category of positions with regard to controversial issues.”
NYSNA previously has run transit advertising in New York City for campaigns at Flushing Hospital Medical Center and Montefiore Medical Center.
With more than 34,000 members, NYSNA is the oldest and largest state nurses’ association in the nation. It is an influential union for RNs, representing nurses in New York and New Jersey. Offering a wide range of services to its members, NYSNA fosters high standards of nursing education and practice and works to advance the profession through legislative activity. It is a constituent of the American Nurses Association and of the United American Nurses, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO.
— 30 —