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***MEDIA ADVISORY FOR TODAY, SATURDAY, MAY 1***
May Day Speak Out and Labor Celebration in Washington Park Attacked by Albany Med as “Communist”
Local Nurses, Firefighters, Building Tradesmen and Women, CWA, CBTU, and New York State Labor Federation Outraged by Latest Union-Busting Tactic by Albany Med
Albany, NY— This year, nurses, firefighters, building tradesmen and women, Communications Workers of America, Capital District Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, the New York State Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, and their families have decided to dedicate this May Day, or International Workers Day, to the Albany Medical Center nurses, who have been in a pitched battle for a first union contract. These nurses have been fighting for better staffing levels, quality patient care, and a voice on the job in the face of the worst global pandemic in 100 years.
The union and working families’ celebration came under attack just hours after Albany Med nurses spoke out on Tuesday, April 28 about unsafe staffing levels in the hospital. An email was sent from hospital administration to the entire staff misrepresenting the organizers of Saturday’s celebration and trying to smear the event as “communist.”
“Albany Med has fought its nurses every step of the way, and this disgusting red-baiting is just the most recent example of union-busting,” said Lenore Granich, RN, a nurse leader at Albany Med. “This latest hysterical tactic shows how extreme and out of touch Albany Med leadership is with the people who make this hospital run.”
WHAT: May Day Speak Out and Celebration
WHERE: Rally at Albany Med (1pm-3pm)
Community march to Washington Park (3pm-4pm)
WHEN: Press Conference at 1PM, 43 New Scotland Ave
VISUALS: Workers in their union shirts, families, solidarity signs and chants. Masking and social distancing will be strictly observed.
Nurses at Albany Med first organized a union nearly three years ago. The hospital administration immediately mounted an anti-union campaign. In 2018 alone, the hospital spent $450,000 on union-busting consultants.
Shana Davis, President of the Capital District Coalition of Black Trade Unionists said, “There is a simple reason why honoring union workers in the Capital Region is a problem for Albany Med. They hate unions and are virulently anti-union in all their dealings. They attack their nurses for joining NYSNA, they use non-union labor for their construction projects, and now they use cheap name-calling to attack working families—all while enjoying the great insurance payments from all the union families and public sector workers that are forced to come to them for health care.”
Albany Med has a long history of violating federal labor law. For example, Albany Med has repeatedly interfered with RNs’ fundamental rights to distribute union literature on non-work time and in non-work areas and has even threatened to call the police on its own RNs to prevent them from exercising their federal rights.
Most recently, NLRB Region 3 has found merit to a wide-range of federal law violations against Albany Med, including: threatening striking RNs with the loss of their health benefits, threatening to lock out RNs participating in a protected strike, refusing to allow changes in work schedules because of the strike, requiring RNs to tell them by a specific deadline whether they intended to strike, coercively stating that certain RNs do not participate in NYSNA and improperly delaying the reinstatement of several RNs and threatening to discipline them if they attempted to return to work. Albany Med has agreed to settle these violations.
In March 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) issued three serious citations against Albany Med, with fines of over $40,000 for failure to provide basic respiratory protection to employees during the COVID epidemic. Moreover, Albany Med also continues to fail to provide meal breaks required by NYS law and several RNs have complained to the State Department of Labor regarding consistently having to work 12 hours straight.
On April 28, CMS updated its Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings, recognizing 204 hospitals with the lowest rating of one star, including Albany Medical Center. The ratings are based on five quality categories.
In Chicago in May 1886, the first American workers struck for an eight-hour workday, considered the spark for the modern labor movement and recognized all over the world as a day to honor working men and women, now called May Day, or International Workers Day.
The Google definition of red-baiting is: harass or persecute (someone) on account of known or suspected communist sympathies. "hospital management has tried to discredit the union by red-baiting them."
The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) represents more than 42,000 members in New York State. We are New York’s largest union and professional association for registered nurses. For more information, go to www.nysna.org.