New York City nurses authorize strike as voting nears completion

Members of the New York State Nurses Association have voted to give their bargaining teams the ability to call a strike.

More than 14,000 out of 17,000 nurses from 12 private hospitals in New York City have completed their strike authorization votes, with 98.8 percent citywide voting in favor of strike authorization, according to a Dec. 22 union news release.  

Voting began Dec. 9. Voting has completed at BronxCare, Montefiore, Mount Sinai Hospital, Mount Sinai Morningside and West, NewYork-Presbyterian and Richmond University Medical Center, the New York State Nurses Association said. The union anticipates all 17,000 nurses to vote in favor of strike authorization once voting at the remaining locations is completed.

The strike authorization vote does not mean nurses will strike. They still must give hospitals 10 days' notice before a strike would occur.

Union members at the facilities are working under contracts that expire on Dec. 31. During negotiations, nurses have expressed their concerns about staffing levels and contend that hospitals are not doing enough to keep workers at the bedside in terms of things like staffing, pay and benefits.

NYSNA President Nancy Hagans, BSN, RN, said in the union news release: "We don't take striking lightly. Striking is always a last resort. But we are prepared to strike if our bosses give us no other option. Nurses have been to hell and back, risking our lives to save our patients throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, sometimes without the PPE we needed to keep ourselves safe, and too often without enough staff for safe patient care. Instead of supporting us and acknowledging our work, hospital executives have been fighting against COVID nurse heroes. They've left us with no other choice but to move forward with voting to authorize a strike for better patient care."

NewYork-Presbyterian shared the following statement with Becker's: "We respect and value all of our nurses, who play a central role in delivering the exceptional care that NewYork-Presbyterian is known for. We remain hopeful that union leadership shares our dedication to reaching a fair and reasonable contract agreement, and we will continue to bargain in good faith."

The health system added that while it is "committed to reaching an agreement, we must always prioritize our patients and their care. We have made the necessary preparations to ensure that our patients at NYP Columbia University Irving Medical Center, NYP Allen Hospital and NYP Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital continue to receive the same high-quality care, without interruption, in keeping with our fundamental obligation to the communities we serve."

Montefiore shared the following statement with Becker's: "Our nurses are the backbone of Montefiore and critical to providing the compassionate, patient-centered care everyone has come to trust. Since the beginning of negotiations, we have negotiated in good faith with the goal of reaching an equitable agreement. We hope the union's leadership will join us in our commitment to our nurses and patients and avert an unnecessary strike. Regardless of the outcome, our doors will remain open, and we will continue to deliver on our mission to provide the high-quality care to our community."

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