COVID-19 frontline workers say Southampton, Greenport hospitals are far behind

Stony Brook Medicine’s East End Union Workers Rally for Hazard Pay

Dozens of Stony Brook Southampton union employees say they should have received hazard pay through COVID-19. Independent/Taylor K. Vecsey

Stony Brook Southampton Hospital nurses and other frontline heroes stood in solidarity on Wednesday, demanding hazard pay for putting themselves and their families at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 25 to 30 members of the 1199 Seiu National Benefit Fund — ranging from registered nurses to custodial workers — marched and chanted on Meeting House Lane, just across from the hospital’s main entrance, for two and a half hours.

They held signs that read, “No hero left behind” and “We stood up for you, now stand up for us,” among others. Some passing motorists honked their horns in support.

A similar rally was held at Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport at the same time Wednesday afternoon.

A union source said that it wants workers to get the industry standard set by Northwell Health at $2,500 per worker. Northwell operates 11 hospitals on Long Island.

Samantha Jiudice, who works as a charge nurse in the intensive care unit, said the union wants crisis pay that is comparable to what other frontline heroes elsewhere have already received. “Not a picnic, not a BBQ, not a shirt or a button — recognition,” she explained.

“We’re very, very far behind here,” said Jiudice, a registered nurse for 19 years who lives in Riverhead.

Scenes from the 1199 union rally at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital on June 24. Independent/Taylor K. Vecsey

“Since the beginning, all the workers in this building have stood up and took to the task of fighting this pandemic. Our community had a generous outpouring of gifts and food, the whole time, they gave us parades, they recognized us every single day we were struggling through this crisis,” she said.

Some of the union workers carried a sign that read, “Our community supported us, but our employer hasn’t.”

“Management has told us from the beginning they want to recognize us but they’ve been dragging their feet this whole time and now they’re giving us basically nothing. So we’re out here today to remind them we are here and we work and we deserve our recognition.”

“Stony Brook Southampton Hospital is in talks with 1199,” the hospital said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon. “We value the skilled work of every member of our staff. Our primary concern has always been, and continues to be, our employees’ safety as they provide the highest quality of care for our patients. We work every day to foster a positive work environment where all employees are valued and respected.”

Scenes from the 1199 union rally at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital on June 24. Independent/Taylor K. Vecsey

The union, which represents both the workers at Southampton and Greenport hospitals, said in a statement that its members “have continued putting themselves at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic despite Stony Brook Southampton Hospital’s refusal to recognize their dedication and sacrifice saving lives.”

Stony Brook Southampton Hospital management has forgotten the critical roles our members have played in ensuring that all aspects of the hospital continue to work smoothly. 1199 SEIU members at Southampton Hospital deserve to be recognized as the healthcare heroes they are for fighting to save lives, while endangering themselves and their families, during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Back in April, Governor Andrew Cuomo called for a federally funded 50-percent bonus for healthcare workers, police and transit workers.

Stony Brook University Hospital nurses, along with emergency medical service providers, held a rally demanding hazard pay back in May. Workers at Stony Brook-affiliated hospitals on the East End belong to a different union than those at Stony Brook University Hospital. The latter belong to the New York State Public Employees Federation, which told Newsday at the time that Stony Brook nurses already make far less than their counterparts at Mather, St. Charles, Southside and Huntington hospitals.