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AMC: Nurses want three-year, 22 percent wage increase

Nurses at one of the region's largest health care institutions will hold an informational picket today.

A spokesman with the New York State Nurses Association says health insurance costs and wages are the two main sticking points in the ongoing negotiations with administrative officials at the Adirondack Medical Center.

Mark Genovese says the two-hour protest in front of AMC aims to educate the public about the wage and benefits disparity between nurses at the Saranac Lake hospital and other regional facilities like the CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh and the Alice Hyde Medical Center in Malone.

But officials with AMC say they're negotiating in good faith, and that nurses want a contract seeking an average 22 percent wage increase over a three-year period.

AMC's proposal includes an average 3 percent salary increase in the first year, while eligible nurses would receive an average 3.2 percent step increase in the second and third years of the contract. That includes a 2 percent cost-of-living raise.

In a release issued Wednesday afternoon, AMC spokesman Joe Riccio notes that a new step increase of 3 percent has also been added to the top of the wage scale for nurses who've reached the maximum years of service.

According to Riccio, the union's latest proposal featured a 3.2 percent average step increase and a 4 percent cost-of-living raise in each year of the three-year contract.

"This represents an average annual wage increase of 7.2 percent for most nurses, and a 22 percent wage increase over the life of the proposed contract," Riccio explained.

For health insurance, AMC has proposed that single coverage recipients pay nothing in the first year of the contract. In the following two years, nurses would pay-in 5 percent of the premium cost for single coverage.

Riccio says that at current rates, the contribution would be less than $20 per month for single coverage.

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