Casey Croucher/Recorder staff Nurses at St. Mary's Hospital walk from the facility this morning after relaying their concerns to hospital officials.
By CASEY CROUCHER
Approximately 20 registered nurses at St. Mary's Hospital marched into the office of hospital CEO and president Vic Giulianelli this morning, presenting a petition requesting he voluntarily recognize their union and start bargaining for a contract.
However, Giulianelli refused to recognize their request, so the nurses went outside the hospital and spoke to the public about why they want to form a union.
"Nurses need a voice and when we work together we can have a huge impact on the quality of care we give to our patients, I see that every day," Carol Ann Lemon, central regional director of the New York State Nurses Association said. "We're fighting clearly for an increase in patient care, patient care is the number-one priority. The needs of the community and we want the nurses to have a voice in what that looks like."
Courtney Wieczenski, a registered nurse in the intensive care unit of St. Mary's, said it's important for fellow nurses to stand up for their rights.
"We work hard to give the best care possible," she said, "but it's been difficult in the past years as we've been asked to do more with less. I know this is a changing industry but we've decided to allow change to happen, and we have to stand up and allow our voices to be heard."
Tara Martin, spokeswoman for the state Nurses Association, said the next step the nurses will take will be to go to Albany.
"The process as of now is we will go to Albany to file with the National Labor Relations Board to formally hand over the union authorization cards of the members who have signed and at that point in time a date for an election will be given by the NLRB and at that time the nurses will go 'yay' or 'nay' to join NYSA," Martin said.
She said "a clear and overwhelming majority of nurses in [St. Mary's Hospital] have signed to join NYSA," but didn't give an exact number.
St. Mary's Director of Community Relations Jerri Cortese released a statement in regards to why the hospital won't recognize the nurses' request.
"Federal Labor Law has established a democratic process that leads to a secret ballot election conducted by a government official," the statement reads. "By asking St. Mary's CEO to recognize the union, we would effectively be denying all of our registered nurses the right to private vote in the voting booth. We are not willing to take that right away from them."