Hundreds of Nurses & Other Caregivers Protest at Northwell Facilities in Long Island & Westchester

May 1, 2024

‘Healthcare Heroes’ Demand a Greater Voice in Patient Care

Phelps Hospital.jpeg

Hundreds of healthcare workers picketed at two Northwell facilities one in Westchester & one in Long Island earlier today. The caregivers, members of 1199SEIU, were joined by community supporters and elected officials at Phelps Hospital in Sleepy Hollow and STARS Rehabilitation Bay Shore on Long Island. Both facilities are part of Northwell Health which is New York State's largest healthcare provider and private employer. 

In June, 2022, approximately 900 Phelps Hospital caregivers in the Westchester community of Sleepy Hollow voted to form a union with 1199SEIU. For nearly 18 months, registered nurses, nursing assistants, transporters, housekeepers, dietary staff and others have been fighting for a fair contract. Yet, management continues to refuse the healthcare workers’ pleas for greater input on issues relating to patient care and staffing. 

“We have served this community, through COVID and beyond, putting our lives & our family’s lives on the line to provide quality care to our patients. Management hailed us as ‘heroes.’ Now, these feel like empty words,” explained Anne Green who has been a patient care associate at Phelps Hospital for 23 years. “I don’t want to be a burden to my family when I retire. I’ve dedicated my life to caring for patients and deserve a good pension just like my 1199 colleagues at other Northwell hospitals who have strong pensions.”

Phelps Hospital 2.jpeg“Northwell isn’t just a massive health system—it is the largest private employer in all of New York. We’re a first-rate hospital system, but Phelps nurses aren’t being treated like the first-rate caregivers we are,” said Pat Bonanno, a registered nurse for 33 years, who has worked at Phelps since 2018. “We do this work because we love taking care of patients, but management refuses our pleas for greater input on patient care and staffing concerns. It is time for change at Phelps.”

Employees at the Westchester and Long Island facilities are calling for improved pay and benefits. Tens of thousands of 1199SEIU members at other Northwell facilities already have strong 1199SEIU contracts that include no-cost family health insurance, guaranteed pensions, education funds, and competitive wages. 

STARS Rehabilitation Bay Shore .jpgAlso in 2022, approximately 30 healthcare workers at Northwell’s STARS Rehabilitation Bay Shore on Long Island joined 1199SEIU. Physical therapists, physical therapy assistants, occupational therapists and speech therapists began contract negotiations in November, 2022 and took to the streets today in frustration with the state’s largest private employer.

“Why the delays? Less than a mile away, 1,300 of our colleagues at South Shore Hospital already have exactly what we are asking for. We are all part of Northwell Health and deserve the same benefits–and nothing less,” said Stephanie Monitto who is a speech language pathologist at the Bay Shore rehabilitation clinic.