Letter to the editor. Unlivable wages

| 15 Mar 2023 | 01:56

    Dear Warwick,

    Let me introduce us - the Service and Technical Bargaining Unit Employees of St. Anthony Community Hospital, Schervier Pavilion, and Mount Alverno Center. These bargaining units encompass Radiology Technicians, Laboratory Technicians, ER Technicians, Care Partners, CNAs, LPNs, PCAs, Dietary Aides, Cooks, Housekeeping Aides, Clerks from a multitude of positions, Maintenance Mechanics, Guest Services Representatives, Phlebotomists, Unit Secretaries, and everything in between that keeps a hospital, assisted living facility or nursing home running. For short, we will call ourselves the Warwick Campus Healthcare Workers.

    In 2020, citing the pandemic and decreased profits, Westchester Medical Center and Bon Secours Charity Health System chose to forego annual raises for their staff who were already working for some of the lowest wages found in healthcare facilities throughout Orange County, including lower wages than the already represented sister hospitals Good Samaritan Medical Center and Bon Secours Community Hospital. Despite not providing raises to employees, Westchester decided to provide Michael Israel, CEO of WMC a bonus of $884,662 bringing his annual income to $2,834,662.

    In the summer of 2021, Warwick Campus Healthcare Workers voted in 1199 SEIU to represent them after the Registered Nurses voted in NYSNA to be their representative, facing similar issues that we face - staffing issues, patient safety issues, and low wages. In a historic movement, the once union-free Warwick Campus was making their voice united, bringing to a point years of low wages, worsening healthcare benefits, and suffering patient safety. Due to the new representation for the Warwick Campus Healthcare Workers, Westchester Medical Center and Bon Secours Charity Health System would once again forego raises for these employees.

    In December 2021, the Warwick Campus Healthcare Workers presented a contract to representatives from Westchester Medical Center and Bon Secours Charity Health System. Fourteen months later, we are still at the negotiating table - with representatives from Westchester Medical Center and Bon Secours Charity Health system dragging their feet despite a staffing crisis developing within all three facilities.

    These staffing issues have been worsening over the last 14 months, with management from all three facilities acknowledging that stagnant wages are leaving them unable to hire staff.

    Due to these unlivable wages and working for three years without a raise, staff that has worked within the facility for years has been vacating their positions, which leaves those positions empty with management unable to fill them due to the non-competitive wages offered by Westchester Medical Center and Bon Secours Charity Health System for their staff at St. Anthony Community Hospital, Schervier Pavilion and Mount Alverno Center. We want better, competitive pay that will recruit and retain staff, a pension to retire into after countless years of service to the System and our community, and health benefits that don’t leave us strangled with bills despite working for one of the largest healthcare corporations in New York... is that really too much to ask?

    Warwick - your Healthcare Workers have had your back for years and we will continue to do so as long as you allow us the privilege. We are asking you to join us in asking Westchester Medical Center to pay us appropriate wages, provide us with better healthcare benefits, and ensure patient safety for years to come. Please call Janet Connery at 845-547-3645 and Kim Hirkaler at 845-858-7161 and tell them that the healthcare workers at the Warwick Campus deserve proper compensation to take care of your neighbors and loved ones!

    Thank you for your support,

    Amanda W.

    Warwick Campus Healthcare Workers - 1199 SEIU