Many EJ Noble Workers Still Off the Job

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One of the unions representing 58 licensed practical nurses and certified nurses aids says only a dozen of its members have been recalled, despite the state allowing EJ Noble to reopen nearly two weeks ago.

"Of course it has an impact on the workers. These are poor people," said Kathy Tucker, vice president of the Service Employees International Union Local 1199. "These are not people who can survive for a long period of time on unemployment."

Tucker says the hospital isn't following the terms of its collective bargaining agreement. In some cases, supervisors are working shifts in place of union workers with seniority.

Grievances have been filed alleging the hospital is violating its contractual obligations.

"They are not respecting seniority. They are not respecting the job bids that people have," Tucker said.

Hospital Administrator Chuck Canole declined an on-camera interview, but told 7 News the hospital is "gradually bringing back staff as needed."

Hospital Board President Tim Monroe says, while the number of outpatients and allowed procedures continue to increase, the hospital is struggling desperately to maintain its financial solvency:

"We'd like to bring the nurses and the staffing back as quickly as we possibly can, but then again, too, we just don't have the patient load to support the revenue necessary to provide that income for them," he explained.

Meanwhile, fewer than ten registered nurses are back on the job. A New York State Nurses Association spokesman says ongoing discussions are underway over recalling workers, scheduling, and staffing safety issues.

Grievances have also been filed by the nurses union.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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