NYSNA Nurses Speak Out for Safe Staffing and a Fair Contract at Erie County Medical Center

For Immediate Release: Thursday, Sept. 22
Contact: Kristi Barnes | press@nysna.org | (646) 853-4489

NYSNA Nurses Speak Out for Safe Staffing and a Fair Contract at Erie County Medical Center

Union Negotiations Begin Today at Buffalo’s Largest Hospital

Nurses Say Fair Contract Needed to Recruit and Retain Enough Nurses for Safe Patient Care

Buffalo, NY – Dozens of members of the New York State Nurses Association at Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) held a speak-out outside the hospital today calling attention to the unsafe staffing and unsafe working conditions they face. The speak-out comes as NYSNA nurses and healthcare professionals at Western New York’s largest hospital kick off contract negotiations with the hospital.

Bargaining with the more than 1,300 nurses at ECMC comes on the heels of contract negotiations at Kaleida Health, the largest healthcare system in Western New York, where fellow union healthcare professionals recently voted to authorize a strike. Both ECMC and Kaleida healthcare professionals are facing similar workplace issues, such as understaffing and a failure to recruit and retain enough nurses for safe patient care.

NYSNA Board member and Terrace View Long Term Care nurse, Steven Bailey, RN, said, “Nurses across the region and the country learned a big lesson from the pandemic– hospitals were unprepared. Hospital administration and the for-profit healthcare system left frontline workers feeling abandoned while they were trying to provide safe patient care. It’s up to us to help ensure this doesn't happen again.”

Earlier this year, ECMC administrators and NYSNA members reached an agreement through impact bargaining that made contractual improvements with the goal of improving staffing levels for safe patient care. While NYSNA members recognize the gains that were made, they don't believe that enough has been done by ECMC to recruit and retain frontline workers at their hospital.

NYSNA Bargaining Committee member Lona DeNisco, RN, said, “Several months ago, we were successful in making strides to reverse the trend of nurse burnout and retention, but it wasn’t enough. Patient care is still suffering due to inadequate nurse-to-patient ratios. For the sake of our community, now is the time for ECMC to make real changes to improve the care in our community.”

Nurses at Erie County Medical Center join the over 30,000 NYSNA members who will be bargaining contracts for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the largest hospital and the only public hospital in the Buffalo area, ECMC is the backbone of healthcare for the region. NYSNA nurses at ECMC are bargaining for improved patient care for the community, including safe staffing and better working conditions to recruit and retain nurses.

###

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, visit nysna.org.

About NYSNA

We are 42,000 nurses working together to win safe staffing, keep hospitals open for care, stop the Wall Street attack on our patients, and win healthcare for all.