NYC hospitals prepare for strike

Amid negotiations, hospitals in New York City have been getting contingency plans in place as thousands of nurses prepare to strike. 

The New York State Nurses Association 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. 6, tentative agreements had been reached on behalf of 4,000 nurses at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and about 1,300 nurses at Maimonides. A tentative agreement was also reached on behalf of 550 union members at Richmond University Medical Center, Bloomberg reported Jan. 5. As of Friday evening, Flushing and the union had also reached a tentative deal, affecting about 470 nurses, according to a Jan. 6 union news release. Nurses at hospitals that had not reached tentative deals were prepared to strike Jan. 9 unless agreements are reached. 

Mount Sinai is preparing in case a tentative agreement is not met before the strike deadline. 

"We have NICU infants being transferred to area hospitals today because of the strike notice," a Mount Sinai Health System spokesperson told CNN Jan. 6. "We are seeking a resolution. The impact is great."

Mount Sinai hospital leaders also issued a memo to workers Jan. 4, saying it would begin diverting a majority of ambulances away from Mount Sinai Hospital, Mount Sinai Morningside, Mount Sinai West and Mount Sinai Beth Israel. Additionally, the memo states that the system had started canceling some elective surgeries at Mount Sinai Hospital, Mount Sinai West and Mount Sinai Morningside, and was "working to safely discharge as many patients as appropriate." 

Hospitals without a tentative deal are said to be hiring temporary nurses to fill in for those who strike, according to CBS News New York.

The strike plans come amid negotiations for a new contract. 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. Hospitals say they have been negotiating in good faith to reach a fair contract.

"Nurses are frustrated. We are holding the line for better staffing and salaries," NYSNA President Nancy Hagans, BSN, RN, said at a briefing with reporters Jan. 6, according to CNN. "The bosses there have repeatedly broken their promises on staffing."

Mount Sinai Hospital said it has offered the union the framework for a tentative agreement comparable to NewYork-Presbyterian's deal, including a 19.1 percent compounded raise over three years and increased payments by Mount Sinai to protect NYSNA pensions. 

In a statement shared with the news station, leaders at Montefiore said, "Despite a generous offer that includes an 18 percent wage increase, fully funded healthcare for life and a significant increase in registered nurses in the emergency departments," they have not been able to reach an agreement. 

Tentative agreements reached at NewYork-Presbyterian, Flushing and Richmond must be approved by union members. The union said Maimonides nurses have approved their deal, and ratification voting will be completed at NewYork-Presbyterian, Richmond and Flushing in the coming days.

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