GOUVERNEUR Service Employees International Union Local 1199 has filed a class-action grievance against E.J. Noble Hospital on behalf of its 58 members who were laid off Monday.
Union Vice President Kathleen M. Tucker said the union also will file a charge against the hospital with the National Labor Relations Board, citing a complete failure of leadership.
This could have been avoided, she said. Its upsetting and frustrating to our members.
Certified nurses aides, licensed practical nurses, radiological technicians and dietary and housekeeping staff members, among some others in smaller ancillary departments, are affected, Ms. Tucker said.
She said some of the departments were told it wasnt a layoff, rather, Well call you when we need you.
We corrected that it is a layoff, Ms. Tucker said. Hospital Administrator Charles P. Conole has decided hell do as he pleases. I made phone calls to E.J. Noble to try to speak with Mr. Conole and he didnt return any of my calls.
Mr. Conole told the Times on Monday that he blames himself for not recognizing the extent of the hospital labs deficiencies before the state Department of Health intervened in August. He said on Tuesday that his main goal is to get people back to work as soon as possible.
The state doesnt want us to close, he said. To say this is a layoff may be a strong term. Hopefully, in the next week to 10 days, we can get everyone back to work here.
He announced on Sunday that as many as 70 hospital employees could be laid off after the state ordered the hospitals lab closed Friday, which essentially shut down E.J. Nobles ability to offer emergency or acute-care services. The state cited multiple lab deficiencies since August, some of which presented safety concerns.
Meanwhile, the New York State Nurses Association hasnt moved as rapidly toward grievances and complaints as the SEIU local has. Association spokesman Mark A. Genovese said the state nurses union, which represents registered nurses at the hospital, has been communicating with hospital administration about the situation.
Weve been meeting with the CEO and management team as to why the lab was shut down and how itll affect pay and benefits and how we can help rectify the situation, Mr. Genovese said. Thats all the action weve taken now. Were figuring out the magnitude and details.
The union represents a total of 31 registered nurses at the hospital, but Mr. Genovese said he was unsure Tuesday exactly how many would be affected.
Both he and Ms. Tucker said they informed their union members about unemployment benefits.
Ms. Tucker said the whole situation is a tragedy.
Right now were working on a community save our hospital campaign, she said. This is hitting our members hard. The hospital said, Wed hope to be up and running in 30 days. Thats a long time for people who depend on a paycheck.