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PEF nurses, EMS staff rally for pay equity, respect, staff retention and to support union lawsuit

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, flanked by PEF President Wayne Spence and PEF Region 12 Coordinator Nora Higgins, a NICU nurse at Stony Brook, addresses the rally.

The sun was shining down as PEF nurses, EMS workers and their supporters rallied outside SUNY Stony Brook University Hospital, raising signs emblazoned with “Safe Staffing for Nurses,” “Can’t Retain Nurses, Can’t Maintain Safety,” “Protect Quality Nursing Care,” and “Union Strong.”

PEF President Wayne Spence and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten called for respect and dignity for nurses; highlighted staffing, retention and pay inequity issues; and talked about union efforts to push SUNY administration to recruit and retain qualified staff. READ MORE • CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD RALLY POSTER SEEN AT RIGHT

PEF nurses learn about workplace bullying, building health and safety committees during conference day

Health and safety, bullying in the workplace, and labor management took center stage at a conference for PEF nurses held Monday, April 29, at PEF headquarters in Latham.

Statewide Nurses Committee Co-Chair Carolyn Cole, a community health nurse with OPWDD in Region 5, addresses the nurses at the start of the conference.

Statewide Nurses Committee (SWNC) Co-Chairs Carolyn Cole, a community mental health nurse with OPWDD in Region 5, and Nora Higgins, a teaching and research nurse 2 at SUNY Stony Brook Hospital and Region 12 coordinator, kicked off the conference by having attendees fill out and hand in PEF recommitment cards.

In the aftermath of the Janus Supreme Court decision, “we are higher in our numbers than before,” Higgins said. “But there are several more cases in the pipeline.” Signing the recommitment cards builds power to bring to the collective bargaining table, the co-chairs said.

“Thank you for the commitment,” Cole said. “I’ve been a pretty strong advocate for a few years,” she added, drawing some laughs. “I’m tired of nurses being pushed aside. We’re in a profession that took a long time to be recognized as a profession. I’ll be damned if we’re pushed aside.” READ MORE

Members give lawmakers glimpse of harsh realities for nurses

NYS SEN. JACKSON RESPONDS TO NURSES – As a former PEF member and staffer for many years, state Sen. Robert Jackson, whose district represents Manhattan and the Bronx, greets PEF nurses from his district and nearby areas during their visit April 30 to his Albany office. SOUNDING THE ALARM – Toba Omidiji, a psychiatric nurse 3 at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in New York City, tells state Sen. Robert Jackson about critical understaffing, the overtime trap for nurses and the risks to patient care that plague Creedmoor and many state facilities. 

Fifty PEF nurses and other health care professionals gave state legislators and their aides a stunning look at just how dangerous and challenging it is to provide quality health care to New Yorkers in state facilities and programs.

The members traveled to Albany to meet with members of the state Assembly and Senate April 30 and raise awareness of the increasingly desperate conditions many of them face in trying to provide quality care.

The nurses detailed a wide range of serious problems that are all rooted in unsafe staffing levels, often so low that when a nurse is attacked and calls for immediate help, there’s no one to respond.  It may take three or more alarms (called a “Code Blue”) before anyone can come to their rescue. READ MORE