Nurses reject SUNY work-around

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Nurses and other health care workers rallied to save Long Island College Hospital (LICH) last October. Photo by Mary Frost

Brooklyn officials said they are “dismayed” that NYU-Langone Medical Center and Fortis Property Group are allegedly trying to wiggle out of commitments to rehire nurses and other healthcare workers from the former Long Island College Hospital (LICH).

NYU’s refusal “does not bode well for their ability and willingness to live up to this and the rest of their commitments,” state Senator Dan Squadron, Assemblymember Joan Millman, Councilmembers Brad Lander, Carlos Menchaca and Steve Levin warned in a joint statement.

On Wednesday, Councilmember Mark Treyger, Chairman of the Council’s Committee on Recovery and Resiliency added his voice in support of LICH’s health care workers.

In August, state Supreme Court Justice Laura L. Jacobson imposed a temporary restraining order, putting the brakes on NYU’s takeover of the walk-in facility, all that remains of the hospital, until Justice Johnny Lee Baynes returned from vacation to decide the case.

A hearing is set for Thursday, September 18 at 10 a.m. in state Supreme Court.

As part of the Fortis Property Group’s bid to buy the LICH campus in Cobble Hill, NYU promised to “preserve the legacy of excellent care provided at LICH” by maximizing the number of rehired LICH nurses at the walk-in unit.

NYU, however, “has failed to hire or seek out LICH nurses for positions at the facility,” the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) contends.

Nurses saw non-union job positions listed on the Internet and submitted their resumes, which, they say, were ignored by NYU.

According to papers obtained by the Brooklyn Eagle, SUNY has offered to hire 25 of the displaced LICH nurses itself – at either Downstate’s University Hospital or at “another hospital in Brooklyn.”

NYSNA has rejected the offer, saying that Fortis and NYU should be required to “live up to the commitment relied upon by the [RFP] evaluators,” in the same way two previously-rejected bidders were required to.

NYSNA attorneys say the hiring of “current LICH registered nurses to the maximum extent possible in order to implement continuity of care” was a “core, material component of their bid.”

SUNY said in court papers, however, that because NYSNA rejected SUNY’s offer to find work for LICH nurses elsewhere, NYSNA’s case should be thrown out.

On Wednesday, Councilmember Treyger said that NYU Langone should rehire the nurses and healthcare workers “both to do the right thing and to ensure we continue the ‘legacy of excellent care at LICH’ that Fortis referenced in its bid.’”

“NYU-Langone received over $1 billion in taxpayer aid following Superstorm Sandy and that these workers and all New Yorkers were there for NYU-Langone during its time of need,” Treyger said.

Last week, Squadron, Millman, Lander, Menchaca and Levin said in their joint statement, “We are deeply dismayed that the NYU-Langone Medical Center and Fortis Property Group are already failing to live up to the commitments they made in their bid to purchase Long Island College Hospital.”

“How can we trust any other promises they’ve made, when they renege on the very first one?” they said.

 

Full statements below.

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Statement from Councilmember Mark Treyger

Chairman of the Council’s Committee on Recovery and Resiliency

“I am disappointed to learn that NYU Langone has failed to live up to its agreement to hire the dedicated nurses and healthcare professionals who worked at the former LICH site. The professional men and women of 1199SEIU have served the public at that location for years, and offering them the first opportunities for positions at the new facility was one of the conditions of Fortis Property Group’s accepted bid. Let’s not forget that NYU Langone received over $1 billion in taxpayer aid following Superstorm Sandy and that these workers and all New Yorkers were there for NYU Langone during its time of need. It is unacceptable that NYU Langone is now going back on its commitment to the public, and I fully expect that it will now support hardworking taxpayers including the 1199SEIU workers.

“These professionals have the experience and knowledge needed to continue providing the level of healthcare that the public has come to expect and they are entitled to the chance to apply for these new positions before outside recruiting takes place. I am joining my colleagues in government and our labor leaders in demanding that NYU Langone lives up to its word and hires the 1199SEIU LICH nurses and healthcare workers – both to do the right thing and to ensure we continue the ‘legacy of excellent care at LICH’ that Fortis referenced in its bid.”

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Statement by state Senator Dan Squadron, Assemblymember Joan Millman and Councilmembers Brad Lander, Carlos Menchaca, and Steve Levin:

“We are deeply dismayed that the NYU-Langone Medical Center and Fortis Property Group are already failing to live up to the commitments they made in their bid to purchase Long Island College Hospital.

As part of the Fortis bid, NYU promised to hire nurses who have worked at LICH when they take over operation of the emergency department – to insure a high quality of care and address large-scale job losses at LICH.

Unfortunately, NYU has refused to take any reasonable steps to fulfill this commitment, and has failed even to let nurses from LICH know about employment opportunities.  Their excuses make a mockery of the commitments they made in their bid.

This refusal does not bode well for their ability and willingness to live up to this and the rest of their commitments to our communities, workers, and patients.  How can we trust any other promises they’ve made, when they renege on the very first one?

We commend the judge’s restraining order on the sale, in light of this broken promise, and we support the action of the New York State Nurses Association and 1199 SEIU Healthcare Workers East to demand accountability.”

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