Hundreds of NYSNA nurses at three Central New York hospitals held informational pickets on March 18 about their ongoing struggle to win fair contracts that include provisions for safe staffing. Nurses were joined by state and local elected leaders and labor and community allies.
Members at Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown, St. Elizabeth in Utica, and Oneida Healthcare Center have presented contract proposals that would raise patient care standards, resolve staffing concerns in a meaningful way, and provide fair wages and affordable healthcare for nurses, but all three facilities have balked at settling contracts that include patient and nurse standards comparable to those already in place at 60 other New York hospitals.
The day’s pickets began at Samaritan, where Debbie LaMora, RN, told those gathered. “It is important to me as a nurse, as a mother, and as a New Yorker that safe staffing levels exist. Safe staffing really does save lives.”
At noon, nurses and supporters at St. Elizabeth Medical Center joined the day’s action. When the Samaritan and St. Elizabeth pickets concluded, the action shifted to Oneida. Sharon Stoner, an Oneida RN, addressed the crowd: “Any nurse will tell you that all they want to do is ease a patient’s pain and discomfort, and give them all the care they need. That’s why I am speaking out about safe staffing.”
The pickets received broad news coverage and political support. “Safe staffing is critical for the health and safety of every patient in New York State,” Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner told the press. She, along with fellow Assembly members Phil Steck, Addie Russell, Anthony Brindisi, Pamela Hunter, Aileen Gunther, and Angelo Santabarbara, and State Senator Joseph Griffo urged the hospitals to listen to the nurses and reach fair contracts.