Media Advisory for: Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Contact: Amanda Torres-Price | 212.603.0098
When: Wednesday, May 23, 1-3 pm
Where: St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital, Newburgh Campus, 70 Dubois St.
(Newburgh, NY)- Registered Nurses and Pharmacists at St. Luke’s Cornwall will hold a “Picket for Quality Care & Jobs” at the hospital’s main campus in Newburgh to protest radical contract proposals put forth by the administration that could negatively impact patient care in the Hudson Valley. The RNs and Pharmacists of St. Luke’s Cornwall have been without a contract for over a year because the administration refuses to negotiate a fair agreement. The administration is threatening to increase their healthcare costs by as much as 100 percent, and cut their pay, among several other drastic proposals that threaten employees’ ability to provide for their families.
While threatening these cuts for nurses and pharmacists, the administration has lavished massive compensation packages on CEO Allan Atzrott, who received a total of $743,393 in 2009, the last year that this data is publicly available. From 2002-2009 Mr. Atzrott had raises totaling 133%, making him one of the highest paid non-profit executives in the area. Mr. Atzrott has done so well for himself that he recently bought a $580,000 beach house in a high-end Delaware community.
“I have a family to take care of and I can’t afford the cuts they are proposing,” said Jacquelyn Rose, an RN with St. Luke’s Cornwall. “If the trustees can afford to give the CEO these generous compensation packages then they can afford to compensate us fairly. Treating the nurses better would benefit the hospital because they would be able to recruit more skilled nurses. With better staffing we are able to offer better patient care.”
Nurses also fear that these cuts could make it harder to recruit and retain qualified professional staff in the area, which could lead to understaffing. Already, U.S. News and World Report rankings showed that St. Luke’s Cornwall has low nurse staffing in nine key areas: Diabetes and Endocrinology; Gastroenterology; Geriatrics; Gynecology; Ear, Nose and Throat; Nephrology; Orthopedics; Pulmonology; and Urology. Several studies have found that low staffing can negatively impact patient care.
St. Luke’s Cornwall is one of the largest employers in Orange County. As a not-for-profit institution that benefits from tax breaks and taxpayer funding, the hospital has a responsibility to be a leader in providing good, middle-class jobs to the local community, which is already struggling economically. If the administration goes ahead with these cuts, it could drag down the quality of 360 jobs and be a blow to the local economy.
The Nurses and Pharmacists, who are members of 1199SEIU and Teamsters Local 445, are committed to doing whatever it takes to achieve a fair contract that protects care and jobs for local residents. They hope that this informational picket will encourage the hospital to engage in a mutually respectful, productive dialogue.
With 350,000 members in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Florida and Washington D.C., 1199SEIU is the largest and fastest growing healthcare union in the country. Our mission is to achieve affordable, high quality healthcare for all.
Teamsters Local 445 represents 3,400 members in Orange, Sullivan, Ulster, Dutchess, Rockland, Putnam and Westchester counties, and is a leading advocate for good jobs for the residents of the Hudson Valley and Catskills.