A ‘rough week’ for laid off workers at LICH
By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Roughly 500 staff members at Long Island College Hospital, many who have worked there for decades, tearfully prepared to for their final day at the Cobble Hill hospital on Friday.
Members of the advocacy group Patients for LICH (Long Island College Hospital) marched in tribute on Thursday from Brooklyn Borough Hall to LICH, to honor the departing nurses and other health care workers.
The layoffs were agreed to as part of a settlement in which SUNY will exit the hospital and turn it over to a new operator. Brooklyn Health Partners, the group which tentatively won SUNY’s Request for Proposals (RFP), is in contract talks with SUNY.
The New York State Nurses Association has “recall” rights written into their union contract. If Brooklyn Health Partners does take over and recognizes the nurses’ contract, laid off nurses would be first in line to get their jobs back.
But workers say the cuts, which affect all health care staff at the hospital, are excessive and will leave the hospital unable to bounce back when a new operator takes over. Many of the highly-skilled workers will have no trouble finding jobs at other health care facilities, potentially leaving LICH stumbling when a new operator comes in.
“My concern is that SUNY is putting all these nurses out to find jobs elsewhere at a time when a new hospital operator is expecting to come in here and continue hospital services,” said Julie Semente, a long-time nurse at LICH. “How will they be able to do that when SUNY has pushed all these nurses out to other employment? Continuation of hospital services in this community, without interruption, is the most important thing.”
Susan Raboy, spokesperson for Patient for LICH, told the Brooklyn Eagle, “There would not be LICH without their amazing staff. This is a really rough week for the LICH staff, which is why Patients for LICH once again are gathering to ‘Stand in Tribute’ for all they do, as we have done so many times over the past year -- and will continue to do. We will always have their back. There would not be a Patients for LICH without them.”
One nurse said they were told that departing staff would not be allowed back into the building after Friday.
Jeff Strabone, spokesperson for the Cobble Hill Association, told the Eagle, “SUNY could not wait to send its loyal LICH employees packing. The LICH staff persevered heroically under the hostile conditions SUNY created as it tried to drive them out. They deserve better than to be treated this way.”
He added, “The people of New York need to contemplate whether their state leaders have any regard for life or labor. I suspect the people will remember these events come election day.”