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January 08, 2008

Vice President Donahue: Visiting nurses deserve a new and fair contract

Source: NYSUT Vice President Kathleen Donahue

In the Jan. 8, 2008 edition of the Albany Times Union, NYSUT Vice President Kathleen Donahue writes:

The Albany Common Council deserves credit for standing up for working families in Albany, by signing letters of support for the workers at the Visiting Nurses Association and NewsChannel 13. ("Unions get boost from Common Council,'' Dec. 28). Our communities are stronger when workers have stable contracts, affordable benefits and rights on the job. That is why both these important fights are taking place.

There are 40 New York State United Teachers members at VNA who have been working a year without a new contract. Many of them are home health care aides, who provide care 365 days a year to some of the neediest in our community.

The aides' work days are filled with extraordinary kindness, and their efforts, along with the VNA nurses and office staff, have created VNA's caring reputation.

Unfortunately, two-thirds of these 40 employees make less than $11 an hour for their challenging work. Their average gross pay is less than $19,000 a year. They deserve a fair shake and a livable wage from their employer.

An organization built on meeting health care needs and with millions of dollars in resources should not make health benefits less accessible and more expensive for its lowest-paid workers. It's time for the VNA administrators and board of directors to step up, show some respect to these hard-working employees and negotiate a fair contract.

KATHLEEN M. DONAHUE
Vice President
New York State United Teachers
Latham

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