Stony Brook hospital workers say their sacrifices warrant hazard pay
Health care workers on Long Island who continue to put their lives on the line during the pandemic rallied for "COVID pay" Wednesday.
Dozens gathered at Stony Brook University Hospital for a "Heroes Not Zeros" march.
They called on the hospital administration to urge the SUNY Board of Trustees to provide hazard pay for essential employees.
“We feel disrespected,” said James Willis, a food services employee at Stony Brook University Hospital. “We feel our lives are just as important as everyone else’s – and not only do we care about all of the patients that may come in, but we care about each other.”
They were joined by staffers from Stony Brook Southampton Hospital and Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital.
The workers say they're looking for crisis pay on par with that of Northwell Health's system, which is a $2,500 lump sum bonus and a week's paid vacation as a thank you for all that they've done during this pandemic.
Employees say Stony Brook has rejected their requests so far. Hospital officials say talks are ongoing and released a statement:
"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.”
Workers say they have put themselves and their families at risk every day to treat COVID-19 patients, and that they deserve hazard pay in recognition of those sacrifices.