Debora M. Hayes was born in Buffalo and grew up in the City’s Riverside section, the oldest of the six children of Paul and Joan Banyi. She graduated from Holy Angels Academy in 1975, and after realizing her lifelong calling to nursing, received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from D’Youville College in 1979.
Ms. Hayes’ healthcare career included time as a nurse’s aide and LPN at the Niagara Lutheran Nursing Home and as an LPN and RN at Buffalo General Hospital. During her tenure at Buffalo General, she served as a staff nurse on B3N (Surgical Teaching), an Assistant Head Nurse on B3N and as a staff nurse in the operating room. Her diligent work ethic and comforting bedside manner were influential in her career path.
In 1982, Ms. Hayes was instrumental in founding Nurses United CWA Local 1168, a Local of 750 nurses at Buffalo General Hospital. She was elected the first President of the Local in November of that year, and led the Local during the 1983 strike for a first contact, demanding recognition and acknowledgement from the hospital.
During Ms. Hayes’ 18 years as President, Nurses United grew to more than 4,500 members, adding 15 new bargaining units at nine employers. Her bargaining skills and leadership have resulted in contracts not only considered to be the standard of excellence in the Buffalo area, but throughout the northeastern United States.
In 2012, Ms. Hayes was promoted to Area Director with responsibilities in Upstate New York, Connecticut and New England. In addition to her responsibilities in the labor movement, she tirelessly dedicated herself to a number of community organizations, including the Coalition for Economic Justice, Coalition of Labor Union Women, Health Sciences Charter School, Statewide Senior Action and the United Way of Buff alo and Erie County.
Ms. Hayes is a loving mother of four amazing daughters, and the grandmother to Owen and Maeve.