A nurses strike at two private New York City hospitals has come to an end after 7,000 nurses spent three days on the picket line.
The New York State Nurses Association union reached tentative deals with Mount Sinai Health System and Montefiore Health System. The nurses had been arguing that immense staffing shortages have caused widespread burnout, hindering their ability to properly care for their patients.
The union said the deal will provide enforceable “safe staffing ratios” for all inpatient units at Mount Sinai and Montefiore, “so that there will always be enough nurses at the bedside to provide safe patient care, not just on paper.” At Montefiore, the hospital agreed to financial penalties for failing to comply with agreed-upon staffing levels in all units.
Montefiore said the agreement also includes 170 new nursing positions, a 19.1% increase in pay, lifetime health coverage for eligible retirees and adding “significantly more nurses” in the ER.
Nurses will need to vote to approve the deal before it is finalized. But the union said the tentative deal will help put more nurses to work and allow patients to receive better care.
“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,” the nurses union 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.”
Mount Sinai called the agreement “fair and responsible.”
“Our proposed agreement is similar to those between NYSNA and eight other New York City hospitals,” Mount Sinai said in a statement. “It is fair and responsible, and it puts patients first.”
Montefiore Medical Center said nurses will be back to work at 7 a.m. Thursday, and all surgeries and procedures and outpatient appointments for Thursday and after will proceed as scheduled.
“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.”
The striking nurses have said they are working long hours in unsafe conditions without enough pay – a refrain echoed by several other nurses strikes across the country over the past year. They said the hours and the stress of having too many patients to care for is driving away nurses and creating a worsening crisis in staffing and patient care.
The union representing the nurses had approved an offer of 19% pay hikes at other New York hospitals, avoiding a strike with tens of thousands of other nurses. But the nurses at the two hospitals that went on strike said the pay raises weren’t enough to solve staffing shortages.
Both hospitals had criticized the union for going on strike rather than accepting offers they described as similar to those the union accepted at other hospitals in the city.