New York: Officials announced Thursday that two New York City hospitals have reached a tentative contract agreement with thousands of striking nurses, ending this week’s walkout.
Nurses, represented by the New York State Nurses Association, walked out early Monday after talks with management at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan and Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. Each has more than 1,000 beds and 3,500 or more unionized nurses. Nurses for both hospitals were to get back to work Thursday morning, the union said.
The union has focused on staffing levels as a key concern, saying that nurses who labored through the grueling peak of the coronavirus pandemic are stretched far too thin because too many jobs are open. Nurses say they have had to work overtime, handle twice as many patients as they should, and skip meals and even bathroom breaks.
The agreements with both hospitals include concrete, enforceable staffing ratios, the union said. The agreement with Montefiore also included what the union described as community health improvements and nurse-student partnerships to recruit local nurses from the Bronx.
“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,” NYSNA President Nancy Hagans said in a statement. “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.”
Privately owned, non-profit hospitals say they are grappling with a widespread nursing shortage that was exacerbated by the pandemic.
“Our bargaining team has been working around the clock with NYSNA’s leadership to agree,” Montefiore said in a statement. “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.”
The hospital said it focused on ensuring the nurses had the best possible working environment, with significant wage and benefit enhancements through the deal with the union.
“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,” the hospital said.
Mount Sinai said in a statement it was pleased to have reached a tentative agreement and that the strike was 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 Health System said.
Several other private hospitals around the city reached deals with the union as the strike deadline loomed. The agreements included raises totaling 19% over three years.