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Hospital workers, union protest CMH wages

State Senator Michelle Hinchey (D-46) spoke at a gathering last week in Hudson on the call by union members for higher wages at Columbia Memorial Health. Photo by Lance Wheeler

HUDSON—Protesters gathered in Hudson’s 7th Park Thursday afternoon, September 1 calling for higher wages for registered nurses and other healthcare workers at Columbia Memorial Health. The workers are members of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. Among those supporting the hospital’s workforce was state Senator Michelle Hinchey (D-46). The union is also pressing CMH to fill what they say are 350 open positions.

But hospital CEO and President Jay Cahalan said in a written statement before the gathering that the hospital “for many months has been voluntarily raising wages considerably for numerous positions where the shortages are most critical.” He also said that CMH wages “are competitive in the current market for many job titles.”

Mr. Cahalan attributed much of the financial strain on CMH to the impact of the pandemic and to federal reimbursements for the federal Medicaid and Medicare programs, which account for approximately 75% of CMH income. Many of those reimbursements do not cover the cost of that care, he said.

The union release said the hospital employment problem leads to “exhausted staff, who are paid below-market wages, are working around the clock.” The union also said that the “short-staffing situation has become a crisis.”

Mr. Cahalan wrote that “CMH will continue to ensure that our care is safe and of high quality and that our wage rates are as competitive as possible.”

(Columbia Memorial Health is advertiser in The Columbia Paper.)

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