Nurses At Albany Med Give Notice For Upcoming Picket During Contract Talks

Jul 19, 2019

A group of unionized nurses are threatening a picket at Albany Medical Center.

The nurses took their patient care concerns public Thursday across the street from Albany Med's main entrance.  The nurses are in the process of negotiating their first contract since voting to join the New York State Nurses Association in April 2018.  Jennifer Bejo, an ICU nurse for 13 years, says she chose Albany Med for its reputation and core values defining integrity, diversity, respect and compassion.   "I feel so honored to work with so many talented nurses. But it breaks my heart in two that I've seen so many of these amazing nurses leave AMC to seek out better opportunities at other upstate unionized hospitals. Several departments at our hospital have had a majority of nurses leave within the first five years of employment. Some of the issues that have caused them to leave are continued short-staffing, stress and pay and benefits that re significantly lower than other upstate unionized hospitals."

A union spokesperson says most of the 2,000 nurses employed at Albany Med have joined the Association. The nurses say they want to see the staff-to-patient ratio increased, arguing that the short staffing impacts patient care.

Karen Gerstenberger has been a Cardio-Pulmonary ICU nurse at AMC for more than three decades.  "Management continues to drag its feet on providing us with a contract that reflects the quality of care that we provide. We are here today urging management to shift course and agree to reasonable staffing protections and basic union standards that will allow Albany Med to attract and retain the best nurses."

RN Chris Lee has been with the hospital for six years:   "Unfortunately, management stated in their most recent negotiation session, which was on Tuesday, that they are not interested in nurses being involved in having any meaningful input into staffing issues and staffing decisions."

Albany Med officials insist they maintain appropriate staffing and have been negotiating in good faith. Hospital spokesman Jeffrey Gordon:  "This a process. We're working with all of our employees to ensure that we are providing the best care for our patients. That's our focus, providing patient care. And we know that throughout this process that's been their focus as well.  All of our staffing is determined based on national standards and best practices. We take input from our nurses on the floor and from redeploying and addressing staffing needs on an ongoing basis."

The nurses have given management a 10-day notice and say if both sides cannot come to an agreement, they will picket on July 31st.