months of stalled labor negotiations, workers at three local
nursing homes checked in at the picket line instead of the
time clock on March 5, beginning their second strike in less
than four months.
reported in Metroland [Newsfront, Nov. 27], workers
represented by the 1199 Service Employees International labor
union at two of the three nursing homes, Guilderland Center
and Rosewood Gardens in East Greenbush, have been engaged
in negotiations with their employer, Highgate Management Llc.,
since spring of last year.
that time, the workers’ requests for pay raises and better
health benefits have been countered by offers from management
that union representatives said are unacceptable. Mindy Berman,
a union representative, said management’s bargaining practices,
and the alleged decline in resident care and living conditions
at both homes, have moved the workers to go ahead with this
no clue when the workers will come back,” Berman said. “Until
[management] is ready to come back to the table and bargain
in good faith, I guess. The fact that they are not is just
flagrant disregard for the families, the workers and the patients.
They don’t seem to care.”
last-minute effort to avoid the strike, U.S. Rep. Michael
McNulty (D-Green Island) sent a letter asking both parties
to “find a process to settle your disputes that does not involve
a strike . . . and choose a panel of neutral mediators who
will make a non-binding written recommendation for a settlement
of a dispute.”
management has refused to meet with a mediator, even to come
to a non-binding agreement, stating in Tuesday’s Times
Union that their negotiator was on vacation. Representatives
from Highgate did not return calls for comment on this story.
SEIU represents approximately 150 permanent workers at Rosewood
Gardens and Guilderland Center, and employees from another
Highgate nursing home, Hilltop in Niskayuna, who will join
the strike. Temporary or staffing-agency workers will staff
the three local nursing homes until both parties come to some
form of an agreement.
that the residents will be confused because they won’t have
that continuity of care,” Bergman said. “But we have an emergency
staffing committee, and if there is an emergency, the owners
can come to the committee and the committee will look at it
and determine if some of the workers need to return.”
Department of Health will also be monitoring resident care
via daily visits throughout the strike.
calling for a moratorium on all executions in New York state
passed the Albany Common Council unanimously Thursday, Feb.
20, adding the city’s residents to the growing number of voices
that are calling for a second look at New York’s capital-punishment
Conti (Ward 6), the resolution’s sponsor, sees this as another
step toward action. “One way to build grassroots support for
state action or federal action is to have local communities
express their support,” he said.
in Metroland [Newsfront, Feb. 20], more than 55 groups
and organizations in the Capital Region are supporting a moratorium
on capital punishment in New York. The goal is to examine
the fairness and accuracy of a system that is, according to
some, seriously flawed.
done our part, in putting the Common Council’s support on
record and adding our voice to the many voices,” said Conti.
adopted, the resolution was handed off to the governor and
the state Legislature, said Conti. “The governor can, by executive
order, initiate a moratorium or the Legislature can, on its
own, adopt a law initiating a moratorium and then establishing
a process for review of capital-punishment law, and what steps
should be taken to ensure that it’s not biased and not error-prone,”
George E. Pataki signed the current death-penalty law in New
York in 1995, and as of August 2002, there were six people
on death row. The governor’s press office did not return phone
calls for this story.
like the strategy is . . . hoping the issue will go away if
they ignore it,” said David Kaczynski, executive director
of New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty, and a key proponent
of the resolution. “I think it’s not going to go away, particularly
as we get more and more people on death row and the problems
become more and more obvious, just as they have in other states.”
Maryland and Illinois have both adopted moratoriums on capital
punishment after evidence of bias and wrongful conviction
evidence is changing the way the public views capital punishment,
“Politicians who support the death penalty have said, ‘People
demand the death penalty,’ but we’re seeing a shift in public
support from the public is the most important factor in bringing
about any change, Conti said. “[The resolution is] also a
matter of public education about the issue. It’s an old quote:
‘The leaders will follow when the people lead.’ ”
reported in Metroland [Newsfront, Nov. 21, 2002], the
Eckerd drugstore chain has been trying to demolish two historic
buildings in Lansingburgh to build an 11,000 square-foot drugstore
since December 1999. Apparently, the company has given up.
this month, members of the Historic Action Network discovered
that the Clearwater, Fla.-based chain had withdrawn its proposal
to raze an 89-year-old former Freihofer’s bakery building
and the 109-year-old structure that formerly housed the Riverside
the life of Eckerd’s proposal, which had been withdrawn and
resubmitted once before, community members kept pressure on
the chain to use the existing structures. But citing the high
costs of retrofitting the buildings, the company refused,
and eventually was taken to court to halt the buildings’ destruction.
Ziemba, cofounder of Historic Action Network, was pleased
that the buildings wouldn’t be demolished and hopes Eckerd’s
plans to build the big box will remain shelved.
buildings have been fixtures in the community for years,”
said Ziemba. “So many people have such fond memories of smelling
the bread in the bakery and the horse-drawn wagons that operated
till the 1960s. People experience pain when fixtures of their
community are demolished; they feel a sense of loss and feel
like they are losing their community.”
fight to save the buildings, located on Second Avenue in Lansingburgh
at the foot of the 126th Street bridge, is not done yet. The
Freihofer’s company will vacate all operations in the former
bakery building in April, leaving both without occupants—and
up for sale.
their strategic location, we’re kind of worried that Freihofer’s
may want to demolish the buildings to make the site more appealing,”
said Historic Action has been trying to interest a number
of possible buyers who might be able to use the two buildings.
are two well-built structures with rare and interesting architecture,”
Ziemba said. “Over the years we’ve been trying to interest
people in these buildings, but having a pending proposal for
the site that would include demolition of both buildings,
it has been difficult.”