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Onondaga County Health Department Nurses Asking County Legislature for Support In Contract Negotiations

Siobhan Christou County Leg
Scott Willis
RN Siobhan Christou speaking in front of the Onondaga County Legislature about contract negotiations (c) 2021 Scott Willis

Nurses from the Onondaga County department of health are asking the county legislature for their support as they negotiate a new contract. Two of the twenty total nurses on staff shared their collective displeasure for the proposal with county lawmakers at their Thursday session. Registered nurse Siobhan Christou says they aren’t being compensated for the work they do, and that is pushing them to leave.

"We are not just COVID nurses, we also investigate and mitigate food-born illnesses, assess animal interactions with the public to prevent the fatal rabies virus, treat and screen tuberculosis, STDs, the list goes on and on. The county's current proposal on the table of a 2 percent wage increase truly feels like a slap in the face. My colleagues are throwing up their hands in exasperation and taking positions where they feel valued and respected."

The proposed two percent increase is just a third of the cost-of-living increase. Christou says nurses with the same responsibilities in neighboring counties are being better compensated, with RN’s in the Cortland and Madison County health departments making 17 and 16 percent more respectively. Local New York State Nurses Association chapter president Linda Geariety says the nurse’s proposal is fair, and tries to make a competitive offer to highly qualified nurses who are leaving the county.

"Our proposals on the table aren't to be greedy or outlandish, but rather to make us more competitive in securing well-trained professionals."

Geariety says her team of nurses has been overworked and is simply asking for the recognition they deserve. The nurse’s union is currently in negotiations with the county executive. County lawmakers would have to approve or reject any contract agreement.

Linda Geariety County Leg
Scott Willis
RN Linda Geariety addresses the Onondaga County Legislature about increased wages for county health department nurses (c) 2021 Scott Willis