After three days of striking, a tentative agreement has been reached between more than 7,000 nurses and two major New York City hospitals—which includes wage increases, the creation of hundreds of new positions, and a commitment to safer staffing ratios.
On Dec. 30, the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), which has roughly 42,000 union members, gave several NYC hospitals 10 days' notice of an intended strike, with their contracts expiring on Dec. 31.
In the negotiations, the union asked for pay raises to keep up with inflation, hospitals to hire more nurses to combat staffing shortages, and safer staffing ratios.
Although NYSNA reached tentative agreements with several hospitals, negotiations with two hospitals, Mount Sinai Medical Center and Montefiore Medical Center, broke down late Sunday night. On Monday, over 7,000 nurses across the two hospitals went on strike.
To avoid potential care disruptions and other problems as much as possible, hospital leaders discharged as many patients as they safely could, diverted ambulances to other hospitals in the area, and transferred their most vulnerable patients. More travel nurses were also brought in to cover those on strike, and some services, such as elective surgeries, were postponed so the remaining staff can care for other patients.
Now, the nurses ended their strike early Thursday morning after tentative agreements were reached with both hospitals.
According to the New York Times, some provisions included in the tentative deal for nurses at Montefiore were a 19.1% wage increase, the creation of over 170 new nursing positions, and healthcare coverage for eligible nurses. Other provisions include an increase in preceptor and charge nurse pay, an increase in float nurse pay, more RNs and NPs in the ED, and an expansion of nurse education infrastructure in EDs.
In a statement, NYSNA said the agreements will also provide enforceable "safe staffing ratios" for all inpatient units at both hospitals "so that there will always be enough nurses at the bedside to provide safe patient care, not just on paper." At Montefiore, the hospital has agreed to financial penalties if it fails to comply with safe staffing ratios in its units.
"From the outset, we came to the table committed to bargaining in good faith and addressing the issues that were priorities for our nursing staff," Montefiore said in a statement. "We know this strike impacted everyone – not just our nurses – and we were committed to coming to a resolution as soon as possible to minimize disruption to patient care."
According to NYSNA president Nancy Hagans, the agreements reached at both hospitals were "a historic victory for New York City nurses and for nurses across the country."
"Through our unity and by putting it all on the line, we won enforceable safe staffing ratios at both Montefiore and Mount Sinai where nurses went on strike for patient care," Hagans said. "Today, we can return to work with our heads held high, knowing that our victory means safer care for our patients and more sustainable jobs for our profession."
In a statement, Philip Ozuah, president and CEO of Montefiore, said the hospital was "grateful for the dedication and commitment of our nurses who have served through very challenging circumstances over the past several years."
Similarly, Mount Sinai said it was pleased that it "reached a tentative agreement with NYSNA, and the strike is over."
"Our proposed agreement is similar to those between NYSNA and eight other New York City hospitals. It is fair and responsible, and it puts patients first," Mount Sinai said. "We're grateful to Governor Hochul, her staff and elected officials for their leadership and support throughout the negotiation process. To our incredible Mount Sinai team: thank you for your unwavering dedication to world-class patient care." (Otterman/Gross, New York Times, 1/12; Pritchett, FOX News, 1/12; Boyette/Moshtaghian, CNN, 1/12; Woods, New York Post, 1/12; Otterman, New York Times, 1/11; Bressner, Axios, 1/12)
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