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Albany Med Nurses Hold Rally And Vigil At City Hall

Albany County and city officials, religious leaders and registered nurses held a prayer vigil Sunday on the steps of Albany City Hall.
Gabe Kristal
Albany County and city officials, religious leaders and registered nurses held a prayer vigil Sunday on the steps of Albany City Hall.

More than 2,000 nurses at Albany Medical Center have been negotiating a contract since April 2018, when they voted for union representation. They held a rally and vigil Sunday on the steps of City Hall.

They carried signs reading "Albany Medical Center, listen to your nurses," the slogan that has dominated New York State Nurses Association-sponsored television ads.

ICU nurse Jennifer Bejo says it's been over a year and there are three main concerns:   "Staffing issues, benefits and raises."

She and other nurses at city hall were joined by local officials, including Albany Common Council president Corey Ellis, who is also NYSNA's upstate political director.  "Council members are sponsoring a resolution in support of the nurses settling their contract at Albany Medical Center. As most people know, it's been over a year and a half of negotiations, and so common council members and religious leaders and community leaders yesterday wanted to send that message to the AMC leadership and also AMC's board of directors that they should settle this contract and make sure these nurses get a fair contract. Now, as most people know, the nurses won their election, their fair union election hands down two to one, wasn't even close. And so for the hospital to be dragging their feet and not really coming to the table and negotiating a fair contract. It's long overdue."

A majority of the Albany County legislature signed a proclamation asking Albany Med to consider the contract. Doug Bullock, a Democrat, represents the 7th district.   "I have introduced the proclamation, which is a sign-on mechanism to urge the Albany Medical Center to negotiate a fair contract. Now I've already have a majority of county legislators that have signed on to this proclamation and I expect to get more tonight so I expect to get an overwhelming majority of county legislators to support the nurses in their righteous quest for a fair contract.”

Ellis is reaching out to residents.   "Well I would hope people listening to this would call the hospital, call the CEO and call the Board of Directors and tell them to settle this contract. The nurses are not asking for a lot. They're just asking for fair negotiations and they'd like a settlement to this contract now."

Reached for comment, Albany Med offered this statement:

“Albany Med has been negotiating in good faith for more than a year to achieve a contract that is fair to all of our employees and to all of our nurses. Unfortunately, the union is raising staffing concerns as a pressure tactic in bargaining. In fact, Albany Med staffs according to national benchmarks for academic medical centers. The union cannot demonstrate that any of our staffing patterns are inappropriate. All decisions, on staffing and every other aspect of our hospital, are made to ensure we deliver the highest quality care to our patients in the safest possible environment.”



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