Nurses at 2 New York City hospitals approve labor deals after strike

Nurses at two New York City hospitals where strikes occurred earlier this month have approved three-year agreements with Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan and Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. 

Ninety-eight percent of voting nurses at both hospitals, according to a Jan. 24 news release from the New York State Nurses Association. Voting concluded at Mount Sinai on Jan. 18 and at Montefiore on Jan. 20. 

"With their historic victory, NYSNA members at Montefiore Bronx and Mount Sinai Hospital sparked a national movement to win wall-to-wall enforceable safe staffing ratios to make sure there are always enough nurses at the bedside of every patient at every hospital across the nation," NYSNA President Nancy Hagans, BSN, RN, said in the union release. "Although it will take time for nurses and patients to fully implement this victory on the hospital floors, change begins now. The new staffing standards in our contracts must now go to the New York State Department of Health and will become the new staffing standards to be enforced by law, as well. These improved standards won't just be on paper because nurses won concrete enforcement, including expedited arbitration and enhanced remedies, including potential financial penalties for the hospital if they fail to follow the staffing ratios."

Union members approved the new contracts on the heels of a three-day strike by about 7,000 NYSNA members at the New York City hospitals. The strike began Jan. 9 and ended Jan. 12 after nurses reached tentative deals.

The now approved tentative agreements address issues such as staffing and wages. According to the union, contracts at both facilities include improved staffing standards as well as stronger staffing enforcement mechanisms, including expedited arbitration of staffing disputes. The deals also include raises totaling 19 percent over the life of the contracts.

"We're pleased that NYSNA nurses at Montefiore Medical Center have ratified their contract," Montefiore said in a statement shared with Becker's. "We came to these negotiations with great respect for our nurses and a commitment to address the issues we knew were most important to them.  

"We believe the historic 19 percent wage increase, greatly enhanced benefits, and unprecedented staffing commitments ratified today reflect our unwavering respect for their dedication to our community and our patients."

David Reich, MD, president of The Mount Sinai Hospital, wrote in a Jan. 19 memo to employees that the new contract "puts patients first." 

"I want to thank everyone at The Mount Sinai Hospital and beyond — including faculty, staff, trainees and volunteers — for your continued commitment to our patients," Dr. Reich wrote. "Together with our valued nurses, I look forward to continuing on our mission to provide safe, compassionate and equitable care to the communities we serve."

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