The Northern Westchester Examiner

Nurses at NYPA/HV Hospital Rally for New Contract

We are part of The Trust Project
Nurses received plenty of support at rally in Cortlandt Thursday. Photo by Rick Pezzullo

Nurses at NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital in Cortlandt rallied outside their workplace last week for a new contract.

Joined by area elected officials and other supporters, nurses and their advocates took hospital administrators to task for refusing to negotiate in good faith and allegedly using hardball tactics against the approximately 270 nurses.

Sue Beck, a nurse for 29 years and a member of the nurse’s union bargaining committee, called a negotiating session last Wednesday “disheartening.” She said nurses haven’t had a salary increase in two years, while other employees and management at the hospital have received higher wages.

“We demand respect and a seat at the table and this is how NewYork-Presbyterian has chosen to respond,” Beck said. “It has been a very long road for us. NewYork-Presbyterian does not respect us or our work. We want to settle our contract so we can focus our energy on saving lives. We deserve it.”

Beck and others said nurses were being punished for forming a union against the hospital administrator’s wishes and refusing to agree to a stipulation offered where they would be given a wage hike if a lawsuit filed by a nurse who was terminated would be withdrawn.

Attempts to have hospital officials address the allegations were unsuccessful. However, NewYork-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital released the following statement after the rally was held: “We value our skilled and dedicated nurses and respect their union’s right to informational picketing. Our goal during the ongoing negotiations remains to reach a fair and reasonable agreement that rewards our nurses for their tremendous commitment and contribution to providing exceptional patient care.”

During the peak of the coronavirus outbreak in the region in the spring, when the hospital was at 120 percent capacity and nurses were being asked to work in unfamiliar areas, two nurses died from COVID-19 and others became ill.

“This health system is one of the wealthiest in the nation,” said Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, president of the 42,000-strong New York State Nurses Association. “Other nurses in the NewYork-Presbyterian system got three percent raises. We got nothing. They call us heroes. We are heroes, not zeroes.”

Members of the Peekskill Common Council were on hand to support the nurses, along with State Senator Peter Harckham, Westchester County Legislator Colin Smith, Yorktown Supervisor Matt Slater and Mondaire Jones, Democratic candidate to replace retiring U.S. Congresswoman Nita Lowey.

“There is no one more essential than the nurses that work at this hospital,” Jones said. “They risk mental and physical health to save lives. Right is right and wrong is wrong.”

“The word is fair. They’re not asking for a million dollars,” said Peekskill Councilwoman Patricia Riley. “They’re asking for respectable wages. Heroes do work here. Now heroes need to be paid here.”

We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.