NO MORE OVERTIME — Nurses from PEF, NYSUT and SEIU rally together at the state Capitol. (Right) June Edwards, co-chair of the PEF Nurses Committee, tells them to send a personal message to lawmakers. — Photos by Deborah A. Miles
Multi-union rally sends loud message to lawmakers
By DEBORAH A. MILES
Wearing bright orange shirts as a sign of unity, hundreds of nurses from Long Island to Buffalo stormed the west side of the state Capitol at a May rally to deliver a message to the governor and lawmakers.
“Do you hear us?” They shouted and chanted, “No more overtime!”
This is the second year PEF teamed-up with nurses from the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to convince lawmakers that working double shifts creates a potential for medical mistakes, erodes family life and dissuades people from joining the nursing profession.
Mandatory overtime affects more than 69,000 health care workers in New York. According to Sen. Kemp Hannon, who spoke at the rally, “two out of three people entering the profession leave within one year.”
“If you cannot get home to take care of significant others, if you cannot sleep and eat, this is not a career. This is a dead end to mistakes and mortalities,“ said Anne Goldman, NYSUT special representative. “The evidence is in and we know it. If we are not properly staffed, the outcomes are unacceptable.”
Making political allies
PEF President Roger Benson told the crowd the fight to abolish mandatory overtime would not be easy or quick.
“Some managers and hospital owners want you to work 16 hours a day. For us to succeed, we need allies among leaders of our state,” Benson said.
Nearly a dozen state lawmakers participated in the event. Assembly Members Richard Gottfried and Susan John talked about the importance of having a bill passed to ensure safe staffing. Gottfried and John are sponsors of safe staffing and nursing care quality-protection bills.
“Any responsible employer should know they shouldn’t make you work overtime when you say you cannot,” John said. “Not all employers are responsible. That’s why we need a law. We have a bill and with your help, we’re going to turn that bill into law.”
The nurses cheered, waved clackers and started chanting again, “Do you hear us? No more overtime!”
The rally also drew the support of other powerful allies, including state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, House Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senators George Maziarz and Thomas Morahan and Assembly Members Aileen Gunther, Adele Cohen and Helene Weinstein.
Following the rally, the PEF nurses marched to the Empire State Plaza Convention Center for a working lunch to prepare to lobby lawmakers in their Albany offices later in the day.
June Edwards, co-chair of PEF’s Statewide Nurses Committee, told the participants to relate personal experiences to the lawmakers.
“I implore you to tell your own personal story,” Edwards said. “Tell them how many times you had to leave your child with a babysitter. Ask them if they would like to be a patient and receive care from someone who just worked 16 hours. Give them a dose of reality.
“What we do today is for the thousands of nurses and patients across the state,” Edwards said. “We are the backbone of our health care system.”
Communicator June 2005
Inside This Issue
Rally to end mandatory OT
- Building momentum every day
- Assemblyman leading the charge
- Senator pushes accountability bill
Retirees In Action
Membership Benefits &Travel
Members unite to stop
tries to keep services afloat
honored at Somos El Futuro
Taking action to stop funding cuts
SBUH members flying air rescue
Extension for parole pistol permits
Elections held for E- Board
Do You Prefer The
Email the Webmaster