Thousands of nurses across New York City hospitals are off the picket line and back at work after weeks of negotiations.
Almost 99% of New York State Nurses Association nurses at NYC private sector hospitals previously voted to authorize a strike, a move that would have left multiple hospitals including BronxCare, Montefiore, Mount Sinai Hospital, Mount Sinai Morningside and West, New York Presbyterian with 17,000 fewer nurses total. After union members fully authorize the strike including a 10-day notice to hospital management and hours of negotiations.
Union members were asking for a pay raise to match inflation, for hospitals to hire more staff, and for hospitals not to cut some members’ healthcare benefits. They say short-staffing has left nurses overworked and patients without safe care. The union has been negotiating a new contract since September. The previous contract December 31.
“Nurses have been to hell and back. (We risk) our lives to save our patients throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, sometimes without the PPE we needed to keep ourselves safe. Too often (it’s) without enough staff for safe patient care. Instead of supporting us and acknowledging our work, hospital executives have been fighting against COVID nurse heroes,” said Nancy Hagans, NYSNA president.
Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul are monitoring NYSNA’s contract negotiations. The state health department is planning to collect data to determine how affected hospitals could maintain operations. If members strike, the state will track these hospitals for overcrowding. .
New York faced a nursing shortage before 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic led to more need and higher burnout. Gov. Hochul has proposed that the state opt into the interstate licensure compact for nurses. This would allow the hiring of out-of-state nurses, paid at a premium, to lessen the shortage. In May 2021, the state legislature passed “safe staffing” bills for hospitals and nursing homes. The acts set annual safe staffing standards for each unit of a facility. It made staffing plans enforceable by the state department of health. It also mandated civil penalties for hospitals that fail to create staffing standards and abide by them.