ANA president: New York City nursing strike 'indicative of systemic breakdown'

A strike that ended Jan. 12 by about 7,000 nurses in New York City is indicative of issues that have long plagued hospitals across the U.S. — like staffing levels and employee safety, said Jennifer Mensik Kennedy, PhD, RN, the new president of the American Nurses Association.

In a Jan. 11 statement, Dr. Mensik Kennedy weighed in on the strike that occurred at Mount Sinai Medical Center on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.

She said the strike reflects experiences that predate the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"When a strike of this scale occurs, it is typically indicative of a systemic breakdown to provide safe staffing levels, protect nurses from workplace violence, support nurses' mental health and well-being, and resolve other work environment challenges," she wrote. "ANA is not associated with the strikes in New York, but I can say this: we support the right of nurses to advocate for themselves, their patients and communities."

Dr. Mensik Kennedy also described such a strike as "a last resort." 

"Ultimately, this is about the quality of patient care as we know that patient safety and nurses' work environment are inextricably linked. A supported and protected nursing workforce yields quality and safe patient care. Nurses everywhere need definitive and transformational action immediately," she said. 

The strike in New York City came amid negotiations for new contracts at the hospitals. New York State Nurses Association members initially delivered 10-day strike notices Dec. 30 at multiple New York City hospitals, including NewYork-Presbyterian, Montefiore, Mount Sinai Hospital, Mount Sinai Morningside and West, Maimonides Medical Center, BronxCare, Richmond University Medical Center and Flushing Hospital Medical Center. 

As of Jan. 11, six of those hospitals had approved previously reached tentative contracts. Montefiore and Mount Sinai nurses reached tentative deals Jan. 12. 


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