The New York State Nurses Association said the deal will provide “safe staffing ratios” for nurses at both facilities, “so that there will always be enough nurses at the bedside to provide safe patient care, not just on paper.” The plan will penalize the hospitals financially if they fail to comply with the new terms.
Around 7,000 New York City nurses headed back to work today after three days of striking. Representatives for the union said they have reached a tentative deal with Mount Sinai in Manhattan and Montefiore Health System in the Bronx, two of the city’s largest hospitals. The nurses went on strike to demand higher pay and stricter nurse-patient ratios, and the hospitals finally agreed to their terms.
The deal also includes a 19% pay increase over the next three years, the total life of the contract.
Montefiore also agreed to fill 170 vacant nursing positions, provide lifetime health coverage for eligible retiring nurses, and to add “significantly more nurses” to the overcrowded ER.
The Bronx hospital agreed to the terms at around 3 AM local time with Mount Sinai coming on board around 30 minutes later. The announcement came just in time for nurses to make it to their 7 AM shifts early Thursday morning. Both facilities said all surgeries, procedures, and outpatient appointments will proceed as scheduled.
The nurses in the union still need to vote on the contract before it can be approved, but representatives for the union said they believe it will ultimately lead to better patient care and higher staff retention rates.
“Through our unity and by putting it all on the line, we won enforceable safe staffing ratios at both Montefiore and Mount Sinai where nurses went on strike for patient care,” the New York State Nurses Association said in a statement. “Today, we can return to work with our heads held high, knowing that our victory means safer care for our patients and more sustainable jobs for our profession.”
A representative for Mount Sinai said the hospital found the contract to be “fair and reasonable.”
“From the outset, we came to the table committed to bargaining in good faith and addressing the issues that were priorities for our nursing staff,” Montefiore said in a statement. “We know this strike impacted everyone – not just our nurses – and we were committed to coming to a resolution as soon as possible to minimize disruption to patient care.”
The union recently finalized a deal with several other major hospitals in the city, which included a 19% pay increase, but the nurses at Mount Sinai and Montefiore who decided to go on strike said the pay increase was never the problem. They wanted administrators to address specific issues on the floor, including overcrowding, the practice known as ER boarding, and nurse-patient ratios that were rarely enforced.
The nurses ended up getting what they wanted after three days of intense negotiations.
Nancy Hagans, president of the New York State Nurses Association and a nurse herself, called it a “historic victory for New York City nurses and nurses across the country.”
“NYSNA nurses have done the impossible, saving lives night and day, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and now we’ve again shown that nothing is impossible for nurse heroes. Through our unity and by putting it all on the line, we won enforceable safe staffing ratios at both Montefiore and Mount Sinai where nurses went on strike for patient care,” she added.