Hundreds Of Nurses From The New York State Nurses Association Engage In Informational Picketing At Three Upstate Hospitals Calling For Fair Contracts And Safe Staffing To Protect Patients

Informational Picketing Held in Watertown, Utica, and Oneida

Mar 18, 2016, 12:52 ET from New York State Nurses Association

WATERTOWN, N.Y. and UTICA, N.Y. and ONEIDA, N.Y., March 18, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Hundreds of members from the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) engaged in informational picketing today at three upstate hospitals to push for fair contracts and to call for appropriate staffing levels to protect patients.

On behalf of registered nurses, NYSNA has presented contract proposals to management that would raise patient care standards, resolve staffing concerns in a meaningful way, and provide fair wages and affordable healthcare for nurses at each of the three hospitals.  

In the last two years, NYSNA has successfully reached agreements with more than 60 hospitals representing 26,000 members across the state, but management at Watertown's Samaritan Medical Center, Utica's St. Elizabeth Medical Center, and Oneida Healthcare have resisted NYSNA's proposals on these key issues.

Nurses say that more nurses are needed to avert a potential staffing crisis.  Safer nurse-to-patient ratios improve nurse performance and patient mortality rates as well as reduce RN turnover rates, staffing costs, and liability.  The facts are clear: safe staffing saves lives.

Nurses are calling for management from Watertown's Samaritan Medical Center, Utica's St. Elizabeth Medical Center, and Oneida Healthcare to come to the table and negotiate a fair contract.

"I have been a nurse for 25 years, and currently work in the maternity unit. Members of my family have had to be hospitalized, so it is important to me as a nurse, as a mother, and as a New Yorker that safe staffing levels exist. Its very simple: safe staffing really does save lives," said Debbie LaMora, RN, Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown. 

"I became a nurse because I wanted to give something back. 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," said Sharon Stoner, RN, Oneida Healthcare. "That's why I am speaking out about safe staffing and the need for proper nurse to patient ratios. New Yorkers deserve nothing less."

"We fully support the nurses represented by the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), who have been fighting for safer nurse-to-patient ratios," said Mario Cilento, President, New York State AFL-CIO.

"The registered nurses at these three hospitals are dedicated professionals with the experience and expertise vital to the short and long term care, health, and well-being of their patients. They deserve a fair contract and will continue to have the full resources of the NYS AFL-CIO at their disposal throughout these contract fights."

State Senator Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, said: "We rely on skilled nurses to provide the comfort and medical care necessary to ensure that the vital needs of patients are met, sometimes under the most stressful of circumstances. I urge both sides to continue negotiations toward an agreement that is fair to all involved, one that recognizes the importance of a nurse's role in our health care system, and one that puts first and foremost the health and well-being of the patients of hospitals like St. Elizabeth."

"Now is the time to demonstrate our commitment to quality healthcare in New York State by addressing the issue of safe staffing levels in hospitals to ensure our patients receive the support and care they deserve," Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, said. 

"When a loved one needs hospital care, it quickly becomes apparent how vital a role nurses play in our health care system.  I stand in support today with the New York State Nurses Association in their campaign to ensure that patients receive the best care possible, and our nurses receive the support they deserve," said Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, D-Utica.

"As someone who has worked in the healthcare industry, I truly understand that nurses are the backbone of our healthcare system," Assemblywoman Pamela J. Hunter, D-Syracuse, said. "They often work long hours caring for us and our loved ones during our most vulnerable times. They deserve the right to fight for fairer labor practices in order to ensure they are able to provide the best healthcare to their patients in the safest environment."

"As a nurse, I know that adequate nurse-to-patient ratios are essential to make sure all patients get the care they deserve. That's why I'm proud to sponsor the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act. I'm working hard to pass this bill because nothing is more important than the health of New Yorkers," said Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, D-Forestburgh.

"A fair contract that rewards the community with greater patient care and safe staffing with skilled nursing professionals is achievable and desirable. Please join me in supporting the members of the New York State Nurses Association in their quest for a contract that raises the standards of nursing care; patients deserve better," said Assemblyman Phil Steck, D-Colonie.

"Safe staffing is critical for the health and safety of every patient in New York State. I personally experienced the importance of safe staffing when my mother was hospitalized, and observed first-hand how important it is that each patient is able to receive the high-quality care that nurses are trained for and want to be able to provide. I thank NYSNA members for their continuous advocacy on behalf of this important bill, and I am proud to stand with them to fight for our nurses and their patients," said Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, D-Round Lake.

"When our loved ones are in need of healthcare, it's our nurses who have always been there to comfort them and ensure their safe recovery. Nurses are a vital part of our healthcare system, and they deserve our respect and gratitude for their amazing work and service. We must do everything we can to allow our nurses to provide the best care possible to our family and friends and I'm proud to support the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act in our State Assembly. This legislation would ensure proper staffing rations at health care facilities and nursing homes to help nurses provide the care our community deserves. Our nurses have one of the most important jobs out there, and they have our admiration by tackling it with strength and reliance. Now is the time to pass this legislation and show them just how grateful we are for their continued service to our communities," said Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam.

The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) represents more than 37,000 members in New York State. We are New York's largest union and professional association for registered nurses. For more information, please visit our website at


SOURCE New York State Nurses Association