Niskayuna Town Board votes to support former employees of St. Clare’s

St. Clare's retirees. (Erica Miller and Marc Schultz/Gazette Photographers)St. Clare's retirees. (Erica Miller and Marc Schultz/Gazette Photographers)

BY JEFF WILKIN
Gazette Reporter

Retirees of St. Clare’s Hospital, facing a major pension crisis, have friends in Niskayuna.

The Town Board on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve a resolution supporting the 1,100-plus retirees who will soon see their pensions cut or eliminated.

The resolution was the latest community show of support for people who worked decades at the former Schenectady hospital that closed in 2008.

On Nov. 13, the Schenectady County Legislature passed a resolution supporting the employees. Local state senators and Assembly members have supported efforts to restore pension payments.

Board Member Denise Murphy McGraw introduced the legislation. She said she worked with St. Clare’s staffers in the past as a member of the Catholic Charities board.

“This resolution is simply a memorializing resolution calling on the state to take some action,” McGraw said. “The St. Clare’s pensioners have stated very well and very sympathetically, all they’re looking for is a community conversation to try to come up with solutions together.

“If this can play some small role in trying to come up with some of these solutions,” McGraw said, “that is the point of this resolution tonight.”

Supervisor Yasmine Syed called the crisis unconscionable. She said the town needed to show solidarity.

“I think it’s really important for all towns in the county to join with Schenectady County, our state senators, our Assembly people here in the county,” Syed said. “We join with them, we stand with them, we’re all in this together.”

Other board members voiced their support:

— “Whether this was a mistake or mismanagement or oversight by the state Department of Health or the Catholic Diocese or the management of St. Clare’s, it really isn’t known,” said Board Member John Della Ratta. “One thing is certain, these 1,100 former employees, it certainly wasn’t the fault of their own; it is our hope they can be made whole.”

—  “This situation is inherently unfair to the many people who have worked their careers in service to others,” said Board Member Lisa Weber. “I hope a solution is found as quickly as possible.”

— “It’s important we do things like this,” said Board Member Bill McPartlon. “We speak out as leaders here, as elected officials in solidarity with members of our community who worked at St. Clare’s in hopes that the state and other agencies can come to some agreement and hopefully solve the crisis.”